Senators Collins, Thune, Cardin and Wyden address hundreds of home care and hospice providers
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Barbara D. Woolley
|Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Val J. Halamandaris, President, National Association for Home Care & Hospice|
WASHINGTON D.C. (March 29, 2011) – Four Senators addressed the hundreds of home care and hospice providers today that have come to our nation’s capitol to keep the fight alive for the critical, high-value, high-quality care that is offered to millions of vulnerable citizens in this country.
Some of the leading voices in Congress that have advocated for home care and hospice in recent years spoke including Senators Susan Collins (R-ME), John Thune (R-SD), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Ron Wyden (D-OR).
|Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) with Maine Home & Hospice Providers|
Senator Collins spoke about the unfair cuts made in home health care over the next ten years, $40 billion through the health care reform bill and an additional $25 billion in cuts imposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). “The unfounded allegation of “case mix creep” is based on what CMS contends to be an increase in the average clinical assessment score of home health patients over the last few years, when in fact, there are very real clinical and policy explanations why the score might have increased,” said Senator Collins. “Those include the incentives built into the hospital DRG payment system which leads to faster discharge of sicker patients and advances in technology which have enabled home health agencies to treat more complicated medical conditions than before.”
“Later today, I will be joining my colleague Senator Maria Cantwell in introducing the Home Health Care Access Protection Act of 2011, to establish reliable and transparent process for determining whether Medicare payment rate cuts are needed to account for improper changes in ‘case mix scoring.’ The legislation will also prevent the imposition of future payment rate cuts until the Secretary of HHS is able justify those cuts through the improved process set forth in the bill,” said Senator Collins.
Val Halamandaris, president of NAHC remarked how crucial it is to have these ‘home care heroes’ that serve in Congress. “Home care and hospice provides people with dignified, cutting edge care, in the comfort of their homes and saves Medicare and Medicaid billions of dollars each year. We thank the elected officials that have stood with us on this important issue.”
Senator Thune (R-SD) has been a proponent of cutting edge technology in home health care and explained about his recent bill.
“It was a pleasure to speak to NAHC regarding my recently reintroduced bipartisan telehealth bill, the Fostering Independence Through Technology Act,” said Senator Thune. “Innovative telehealth technology stands to bridge the distance gap between patients and high quality health care, and lower Medicare costs. I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to move this legislation through Congress.”
The annual March on Washington & Law Symposium Conference & Exposition brings together hundreds of home care and hospice providers and will address current hot topics in health care legislation, regulatory matters, technology and hospice. The march comes at a time when $12 billion in Medicare cuts to the industry are already planned over the next few years even though home care and hospice is more cost effective, saving billions in Medicare expenditures. In 2009, the average home care visit cost $135.00 per day versus the average hospital visit that cost $1500 a day. Preventive home health care saves Medicare and Medicaid billions of dollars per year.
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) is a nonprofit organization that represents the nation’s 33,000 home care and hospice organizations. NAHC also advocates for the more than two million nurses, therapists, aides and other caregivers employed by such organizations to provide in-home services to some 10 million Americans each year who are infirm, chronically ill, disabled and dying. Along with its advocacy, NAHC provides information to help its members provide the highest quality of care and is committed to excellence in every respect. To learn more about NAHC, visit www.nahc.org and www.caring.org.