The members of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice will come together on March 23-26, 2014, for NAHC’s annual March on Washington Conference & Exposition. Representatives from hundreds of home care and hospice agencies nationwide will converge on Capitol Hill and act on their right to petition members of the House and Senate.
By telling their stories, they aim to show how home care fulfills the promise of health care reform by letting our seniors and disabled get the care they need at home. It also offers a strong value proposition by improving outcomes while driving down costs that stop us from meeting the needs of our aging population.
Home care is a recognized answer to high Medicare expenditures. Yet spending on home health is projected to grow at less than half the rate of spending on skilled nursing facility care. Lack of fair reimbursement has already pushed thousands of providers into the red and limited access to home health care. Without needed changes, many patients will have no alternative to costly institutional options.
For the sake of patients and providers, NAHC will urge Congress to take the following steps:
- Reject proposals that would impose home health or hospice copays and payment cuts to offset the cost of fixing the Medicare physician payment formula or reducing the current deficit.
- Enact the bipartisan Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act (S. 1332; H.R. 2504) allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to certify and change home health plans of treatment. NPs and PAs can now certify Medicare eligibility for skilled nursing facility care but not for care in the home.
- Offer home care and hospice reimbursement for technologies that would increase health information exchange, promote care coordination—especially for patients with multiple chronic conditions—and empower patients to take greater responsibility for their health.
- Closely oversee CMS’ efforts to revise the hospice payment system and reject efforts to ‘rebase’ hospice payments.
These changes will improve outcomes and satisfaction among patients and their families. They will also answer a pressing demand by members of the baby boom generation. The need for home health care will only increase over the next 19 years as the 78 million boomers reach their 65th birthday at the rate of 10,000 per day. The boomers, like the vast majority of patients, will choose home health because it gives them independence and keeps families together — longtime goals of home health care.
“For decades home care has provided the aged, disabled, and chronically ill with dignified, effective, and efficient treatment,” said NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris. “Today, millions of Americans still depend on home care to remain healthy, stable, and out of costly institutional settings. They have the right to receive care in their homes, and our goal is to defend it. During our march on Capitol Hill, we will educate lawmakers on key issues facing the patients we serve.”
For more information on this year’s March on Washington, please click here.