Fight for Medicare Reform to Expand Access to Home Care!

GO HERE to tell Congress to support Choose Home Care Act of 2021 Home care has long been a safe and effective alternative to care in an institutional setting. Medicare reform to provide viable, extended care services at home for patients who otherwise have only one choice, the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) benefit, is long…

Hill Hearing Highlights Differing Approaches to Support Direct Care Workers

July 20 hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on Education & Labor (E&L) revealed sharp differences in preferred solutions to the challenge of building a strong direct care workforce, even as members largely agreed what those challenges are and that the federal government has a role to play in overcoming them.

During the hearing, many Democrats expressed support for the Direct Creation, Advancement, and Retention of Employment (CARE) Opportunity Act (H.R. 2999), a bill introduced in May by E&L Chairman Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA). That bill would allocate more than $1 billion in federal grants over five years to improve recruitment, career advancement, training and more for direct care workers. A slightly different companion bill in the Senate, the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act (S. 2344) was also recently introduced last week.

While Republican lawmakers agreed during the hearing that fostering a strong direct care workforce is important, they raised concerns about the creation of a separate and standalone federal program focused on one specific kind of profession, arguing that it could be redundant and not flexible enough to meet unique local needs. Instead of new legislation, many Republican members touted re-authorization of the existing Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) as a promising lever for workforce support, inclusive of but not exclusively focused on direct care workers. WIOA was first signed into law in 2014, and is designed to help job seekers of all kinds access employment, education, training, and support services.

The hearing comes amidst the backdrop of a wider policymaker focus on home care and the home-based workforce. Spurred in large part by President Biden’s call earlier this year to invest $400 billion in home and community-based services, the debate on how exactly to respond to the field’ workforce challenges has reached Congress, where active conversations are happening on which home care provisions will be included in an expected multi-trillion dollar reconciliation legislative package.

NAHC appreciates policy efforts to boost innovative recruitment, retention and advancement programs for our members’ workforces, but also understands that these programs need more sustainable support in the form of boosted provider payment rates, without which many of the innovations will be hard to institutionalize over the long-term. We look forward to working with our congressional champions on policies that support our members’ ability to improve the lives and the work of their employees.

Fight for Medicare Reform to Expand Access to Home Care!

  • GO HERE to tell Congress to support Choose Home Care Act of 2021

Home care has long been a safe and effective alternative to care in an institutional setting. Medicare reform to provide viable, extended care services at home for patients who otherwise have only one choice, the Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) benefit, is long overdue.

The risks and limitations of SNFs has been vividly demonstrated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the pandemic crisis, extended care at home also makes sense. Nearly 33% of patients who go to SNFs have identical frailty scores to those who receive care at home. The main difference in these patients is that they lack access to extended caregiver services and certain other supplemental health care supports.

The Choose Home Care Act of 2021, S. 2562, is a cost-effective and patient preferred home-based extended care benefit as a supplement to the existing home health benefit that supports patients to leave the hospital and recover at home with a mix of expanded skilled nursing, therapy, personal care, telehealth services and more. Eligible patients can choose to recover at home in a safe home environment with sufficient care tailored to meet their individual needs and reduced Medicare spending.

(Read this NAHC Report article for more information on the Choose Home Care Act of 2021.)

The Choose Home Care Act represents a tremendous step forward for Medicare beneficiaries who would prefer to recover at home, but have been previously prevented from doing so under current policy restrictions,” said NAHC President William A. Dombi. “Given the many benefits of accessing healthcare and support services at home, as well as the importance of protecting vulnerable patients from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, this must-pass legislation would go a long way to improve seniors’ health in a safe, cost-effective way.”

NAHC has been working hard to get this legislation introduced and we will be working just as hard to see it turned into law. However, we could use your help. The action of concerned Americans making their voice heard on Capitol Hill is powerful and it is both easy and quick. Just a few clicks of your mouse and you’ve sent a message to your elected representatives in Congress. Please do so now!

Choose Home Care Act is Vital New Bipartisan Legislation to Expand Access to Home Care

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) today commend the introduction of the Choose Home Care Act of 2021, bipartisan legislation designed to increase access to care at home by providing eligible Medicare beneficiaries with an additional care option following hospitalization. This is an important Medicare policy change that will strengthen and modernize…

Hill Hearing Highlights Differing Approaches to Support Direct Care Workers

A July 20 hearing of the House of Representatives Committee on Education & Labor (E&L) revealed sharp differences in preferred solutions to the challenge of building a strong direct care workforce, even as members largely agreed what those challenges are and that the federal government has a role to play in overcoming them. During the…

WISH Act Would Provide Long-Term Care Insurance

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY-3) has introduced the Well-Being Insurance for Seniors to be at Home (WISHActH.R. 4289, in the House of Representatives to create a catastrophic long-term care insurance program.

The WISH Act calls for the creation of a public-private relationship to provide long-term care coverage for older adults. On the public side, the federal government would collect a new payroll tax of 0.3 percent of wages from both employer and employee, or a combined 0.6 percent from the self-employed. On the private side, it is expected that private insurance companies would be unburdened of providing catastrophic levels of coverage and would create more affordable long-term care coverage options.

Eligible beneficiaries would need to either suffer from dementia or require assistance with at least two activities of daily living. Beneficiaries would also be required to have worked and contributed for 40 quarters to a new Long-Term Care Insurance Trust Fund. Upon meeting these requirements, and subject to the applicable waiting period, beneficiaries would be eligible to receive up to approximately $3,600 per month, enough to cover approximately six hours of daily care. The waiting period ranges between one and five years; those with a lower income qualify after one year. The waiting period increases at higher income levels.

Upon announcing introduction of the WISH Act, Congressman Suozzi cited several reasons his legislation is needed,  including:

  • a projected near-doubling of retirees that will be seriously disabled over the next 15 years,
  • most retirees without the means to pay for long-term care, and
  • expensive institutional care as the likely result for those without the means to cover long-term care expenses.

“We have a storm coming, with the number of disabled elders expected to double in the coming years,” said Rep. Suozzi. “Fewer family caregivers are available for these aging Americans and the market for long-term care insurance is not currently sufficient to address these demographic challenges. The WISH Act would save the Medicaid program and millions of Americans from financial ruin, would allow people to age at home with dignity, and would create millions of good-paying, middle class jobs in the home health care industry.”

NAHC has not yet taken a position on this legislation, but we do support the establishment of a long-term care program that expands access to services without requiring beneficiaries to be poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. NAHC look forward to working with Congressman Suozzi as his proposal develops.

Stay tuned to Private Duty Source for updates on this legislation.

WISH Act Would Provide Long-Term Care Insurance

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-NY-3) has introduced the Well-Being Insurance for Seniors to be at Home (WISH) Act, H.R. 4289, in the House of Representatives to create a catastrophic long-term care insurance program. The WISH Act calls for the creation of a public-private relationship to provide long-term care coverage for older adults. On the public side, the…

New Bill Aims to Support Direct Care Workforce, Family Caregivers

A bipartisan group of Senators led by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) have introduced the Supporting Our Direct Care Workforce and Family Caregivers Act (S. 2344), a bill to provide $1 billion in grants to states and other eligible entities to support innovative projects and programs focused on recruitment, retention, and training for direct care workers,…

NAHC to Congress: Protect Medicare, Don’t Use Funds to Pay Non-Health Care Costs

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and a group of like-minded organizations representing America’s health providers have written a letter to Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), asking them to oppose an extension of mandatory Medicare sequestration as a pay-for in any infrastructure package; and…

Medical Innovation Legislation Includes Hospice, Telehealth & Caregiver Support

Last week, as a long-awaited follow-up to the transformative 2016 21st Century Cures Act, Representatives Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI) released text of a discussion draft for what is being referred to as CURES 2.0 legislation. (Bill text is HERE; summary is HERE.) While the bill’s primary focus is on advancing the country’s biomedical…