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:: NAHC Report
 
  NAHC Report: Issue# 2629, 3/24/2015
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Sustainable Growth Rate Legislation Includes Two-Year Extension of Rural Add-on
March on Washington Update: Predictions for the Year Ahead
For Your Information: NAHC’s Legislative Hotsheets Now Available
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Sustainable Growth Rate Legislation Includes Two-Year Extension of Rural Add-on

The U.S. House of Representatives this Thursday will consider legislation on the floor to permanently repeal the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR).  The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) has learned that this legislation will include a two-year extension of the Medicare Home Health Rural add-on at its current 3% level, which is set to expire at the end of this year.

As previously reported, the Rural Add-on extension has been one of NAHC’s top priorities for the SGR bill and it would be a huge victory for home care. However, the SGR legislation—as currently drafted—also includes some problematic provisions for home care and hospice, including a reduction in the annual inflation update and imposition of a surety bond on home health. In addition to keeping the rural add-on extension language in the bill, NAHC is working to mitigate the payment cut and remove the surety bond requirement from the legislation.

The legislation will extend the current 3 percent payment rate add-on for home health services delivered to residents of rural areas.  This is exactly what NAHC recommended to Congress in its Legislative Blueprint for Action. Loss of the add-on would likely result in agencies having to turn away patients and even eliminate services in rural areas. The delivery of care in rural areas generally costs more than it does in urban areas due to a number of factors. Rural agencies endure fixed costs with fewer patients and visits, resulting in higher per-patient and per-visit costs. Rural agencies also tend to lack access to capital for technological advances that can improve efficiency. MedPAC has consistently found that rural agencies have profit margins below those of urban agencies. For those reasons and more, rural home health services have had a payment differential in one form or another for most of the last 25 years.

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March on Washington Update: Predictions for the Year Ahead

At the 2015 March on Washington, a panel of experts on home care and hospice policy provided their legislative, regulatory, and legal predictions for the year ahead.

On the legislative front, Richard D. Brennan, Jr., Vice President for Government Affairs at the National Association for Home Care & Hospice, predicted that Congress would increase its focus on health IT and the challenges of interoperability. Brennan also predicted that this increased focus on health IT would bring home health more recognition as the best-suited provider of care to accommodate these new innovations.

NAHC’s regulatory team said members should expect federal agencies to increase their oversight authorities, implement more quality measures, and conduct more and more audits.

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NAHC’s Legislative Hotsheets Now Available
Hotsheets serve as an important tool to quickly learn about the most important issues affecting the home care and hospice community

NAHC’s Office of Legislative Affairs recently released the Legislative Hotsheets for 2015. The Hotsheets will be used by home care and hospice advocates during the March on Washington. They are designed to help advocates prepare for legislative visits and can also be used as handouts during this year’s March.

They also serve as good primers on the most pressing current issues for the home care and hospice community.

The Legislative Hotsheets are:

Medicare

Medicaid

Hospice

Private Pay

Technology

To learn more about the March on Washington, and to register to attend, please click here.  
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