The 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:
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:
WHAT TO DO TODAY
For today’s suggested grassroots action step: Plan to attend a congressional town hall meeting.
Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), recently circulated a Dear Colleague letter asking their colleagues to support the Fostering Independence Through Technology (FITT) Act, S. 596. Senators Thune and Klobuchar are the FITT Act’s lead sponsors.
In their letter, Senators Thune and Klobuchar state that:
“Remote monitoring, a form of telehealth, uses non-invasive sensors to monitor the health and well-being of seniors in their home and can prevent the premature or unnecessary placements in more expensive types of long term care facilities…This bipartisan, budget neutral legislation would establish a pilot program under the Medicare program to provide incentives for home health agencies to utilize remote monitoring technology. We believe that using this type of technology in the home would reduce the number of visits by home health aides and allow individuals to remain in their homes longer while still providing quality care.” (more…)
The AARP recently encouraged its members to “speak up now about the future of Medicare” by writing their elected officials in opposition to the reintroduction of copayments for home health care to Medicare, as well as other initiatives that the 37 million-member strong organization sees as harmful to the future of Medicare.
“”It’s important for NAHC members to remember that even though we face many challenges, we are not in this fight alone,” said NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris. “The AARP is also encouraging their members to take action to preserve Medicare and oppose the reintroduction of home health copays.” (more…)
Please sign an industry-sponsored petition on The White House website if you feel in-home care services should be exempt from the Employer Mandate portion of the Affordable Care Act. This petition was just created and needs 100,000 signatures within the next 30 days in order to get the attention of the President and Congress. So far just over 1,000 signatures have been received.
With five days to go in the Florida Legislative Session, HCAF’s bill to reduce the quarterly report fine and exempt private duty providers passed the Senate this morning 34-0. The bill will be voted on in the House of Representatives next week, after which it will go to Gov. Rick Scott for his signature.
Lawmakers are now crafting the budget, so now is the time to contact them to urge their support for increasing reimbursement rates! Click here to take action!
The bipartisan Fostering Independence Through Technology (FITT) Act – S. 596 – which was introduced by Senators John Thune (R-SD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) last month now has two additional cosponsors. Senators Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Al Franken (D-MN) are now also supporting the bill. The legislation would expand the use of telehealth technology under Medicare to reduce hospital re-admissions in rural and underserved communities across the country. (more…)
The Florida Legislature will adjourn its annual legislative session on May 3, and lawmakers are currently preparing the 2013-14 budget. Medicaid home health reimbursement rates have not increased since 1987, and this is the first year in a handful of years that state revenues are in the black.
HCAF has proposed a 50% increase for Medicaid home health visits and a 15% increase for Medicaid private duty nursing services. The cost to the state is $9,136,110 – no small number, but the savings that home care can provide to the state far exceeds that figure. (more…)
This morning, HCAF’s quarterly report reform bill unanimously passed its final committee stop in the Florida Legislature. The bill now proceeds to the floor of the Senate and House of Representatives, its two final stops before going to Gov. Rick Scott for signature. If passed into law, the bill will reduce the quarterly report fine from $5,000 to $200 per day up to $5,000 per quarter and exempt private duty agencies.
Now is the time to get your lawmakers’ support for this critical bill! Click here to send your lawmakers an email encouraging their support.
President Obama yesterday released his proposed budget for the 2014 fiscal year, which calls for a copayment for home health services of $100 per home health episode. The copay would apply to episodes with 5 or more visits not preceded by a hospital or post-acute care stay for new beneficiaries in 2017 and thereafter. Obama’s budget proposal comes after Congress announced proposed budgets last month which do not call for a copay.
If enacted, the President’s copay would reduce Medicare payments for home health services by $60 million over 5 years and $730 million over 10 years. Click here to review a side-by-side comparison of budget proposals from the President, Congress and the Simpson-Bowles Commission (which called for a 20% uniform copay). (more…)