Home Care Urged to Ramp Up Grassroots Campaign over Congressional Recess

act-nowThe summer recess for the House of Representatives and Senate runs through September 9. This provides many opportunities for home care and hospice grassroots action back in the state and districts over the recess.

When Congress returns it will have to address a number of contentious issues, including further efforts to find alternatives to the sequester, fund the government for the next fiscal year beginning October 1, raise the debt limit, reduce the deficit and find offsets for the cost of fixing the flawed Medicare physician payment formula before the end of the year.

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, the Congressional Budget Office, the Bowles-Simpson Deficit Reduction Commission, and the President’s proposed budget have suggested home health and hospice payment cuts and copays for deficit reduction and/or offsetting the cost of the physician payment fix. The home care and hospice community will have to ramp up its efforts during the recess and beyond to protect the home health and hospice benefits from payment cuts and copays.

Home care and hospice advocates should also raise other important issues over the recess, such as:

  • Revising the proposed Medicare home health rebasing rule to ensure payments are adequate to protect access to care;
  • Reducing home health face-to-face physician encounter documentation requirements;
  • Reforming the hospice face-to-face requirement and establishing hospice payment demonstration program (Hospice Evaluation and Legitimate Payment Act (S.1053; H.R.2302);
  • Allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to sign home health plans of care (The Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act (S.1332; H.R.2504));
  • Providing incentives for telehomecare (The Fostering Independence through Technology Act (S.596));
  • Preserving the companionship services exemption from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act;
  • Modifying the employer responsibilities in the Affordable Care Act to address home care specific needs.

Sample letters and talking points for these issues are available here.

During the recess, HCAF & NAHC are urging its members and their friends, family, and co-workers to speak out as loudly and forcefully as possible. This is also a good time to thank those members of Congress who have taken a stand against home care and hospice payment cuts and copays.

Following are suggested grassroots action steps over the recess:

  • Attend a town hall meeting held by your members of Congress.
  • Pose specific questions to your members of Congress on where they stand on home care and hospice issues.
  • Schedule face-to-face meetings with your members of Congress.
  • Invite a member of Congress out on a home care visit — get the media to come along if possible.
  • Attend a candidate fundraiser for a member of Congress and speak with him or her personally.
  • Submit a letter to the editor or op-ed piece to the local newspaper.
  • Call in to a talk radio station and initiate dialogue on home care and hospice.
  • Use online social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to discuss home care and hospice concerns.
  • Contact your state’s governor and ask for support for home care and hospice.
  • Send a message to all employees of your organization asking them to get involved and to write messages to members of Congress through the Legislative Action Network.
  • Send a message to all board members of your home health agency or hospice asking them to get involved and to write messages to members of Congress through the Legislative Action Network.
  • Send a message to your past and current patients and ask that they contact Congress through the Legislative Action Network.
  • Send a message to physicians who care for your patients asking them to get involved and to write messages to members of Congress through the Legislative Action Network.
  • Contact community groups such as local AARP chapters, senior citizen centers, and disease support groups explaining threatened home care and hospice cuts and copays and ask that they send messages to Congress for support of home care and hospice through the Legislative Action Network.
  • Contact religious groups explaining threatened home care and hospice cuts and copays and ask that they send messages to Congress through the Legislative Action Network.
  • Contact health care officials such as hospital administrators and explain threatened home care and hospice cuts and copays, asking them to send a message to Congress through the Legislative Action Network.
  • Spread the word on using the Legislative Action Network to help fight home care and hospice cuts and copays through a message to your email contacts urging them to send to at least 10 more individuals.
  • Invite your representative to join the House Home Health Caucus.

WHAT TO DO TODAY

For today’s suggested grassroots action step: Plan to attend a congressional town hall meeting.

  • Go to your Congress member’s website to see if his/her recess schedule is published.
  • If a schedule isn’t published on the website, call his or her local office and inquire as to when the lawmaker(s) will be making public appearances.
  • Review the talking points/issue briefs on the Legislative Action Network.
  • Bring as many home care and hospice advocates with you as you can get.
  • Speak out at a town hall meeting about the importance of preserving access to home care and hospice and urge your representative and senators to oppose home care and hospice cuts and copays.

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