Sen. Bill Nelson Named to Congressional Budget Conference Committee

As part of the agreement reached by Senators Reid (D-NV) and McConnell (R-KY) to reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling, a bipartisan, bicameral Conference Committee was named to negotiate a budget for 2015.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson

The Conference Committee – co-chaired by Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) – begins work this week to reach a consensus between Mr. Ryan’s budget proposal and Ms. Murray’s.

As a member of the powerful Senate Budget Committee, Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) has been named as a member of the conference committee. HCAF is proud to have Senator Nelson serving Florida’s interests on this committee that will be incredibly important to the home health industry.

Of biggest concern to home care are provisions that have been floated for consideration that would reintroduce a home health copayment and further cut Medicare home health spending – both of which HCAF continues to vehemently oppose. Senator Murray and Congressman Ryan continue to emphasize that all options are on the table with respect to reaching a compromise budget that is acceptable to both parties.

Congress eliminated the home health copayment in 1972 for the very reasons it should not be resurrected now. The home health copayment in the 1960s and 1970s deterred Medicare beneficiaries from accessing home health care and instead created an incentive for more expensive institutional care.  Reinstating the home health copay today would undo the progress made in efforts to reduce unnecessary hospitalizations and nursing home stays. The 20 percent copay would mean an average copay of $600 for a 60-day episode of home health care.

HCAF is urging our members to contact Senator Nelson and ask him to oppose reinstating the home health copayment. It takes all of us to be engaged in order to prevent this measure from going through!

There are 29 members named to the Conference Committee in total – including the entire Senate Budget Committee, four House Republicans and three House Democrats. Below is a list of all 29 Conferees:

House Republicans: 
Rep. Paul Ryan (WI)
Rep. Tom Cole (OK)
Rep. Tom Price (GA)
Rep. Diane Black (TN)

House Democrats:
Rep. James Clyburn (SC)
Rep. Chris Van Hollen (MD)
Rep. Nita Lowey (NY)

Senate Republicans:

Sen. Jeff Sessions (AL)
Sen. Charles Grassley (IW)
Sen. Mike Enzi (WY)
Sen. Mike Crapo (ID)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (SC)
Sen. Rob Portman (OH)
Sen. Pat Toomey (PA)
Sen. Ron Johnson (WI)
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (NH)
Sen. Roger Wicker (MS)

Senate Democrats: 

Sen. Patty Murray (WA)
Sen. Ron Wyden (OR)
Sen. Bill Nelson (FL)
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (MI)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (VT)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (RI)
Sen. Mark Warner (VA)
Sen. Jeff Merkley (OR)
Sen. Chris Coons (DE)
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (WI)
Sen. Tim Kaine (VA)
Sen. Angus King (ME)

Source: NAHC

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