Bill to Extend PHE Telehealth Flexibilities Advances in Congress

Legislation to extend telehealth waivers until the end of 2024 passed by the U.S. House of Representatives late last week, offering the hope that this pandemic-related flexibility could be made more permanent and outlive the public health emergency (PHE), which is set to expire in October.

The news is notable because it means that these pandemic-relief telehealth flexibilities could be untied from the public health emergency (PHE). Currently, the PHE is set to expire in October, but could receive another extension.

On Tuesday, the House Rules Committee moved the Advancing Telehealth Beyond COVID-19 Act forward in an almost unanimous vote.

“The bill gives Congress, Medicare, and stakeholders time to produce a permanent policy with any necessary program integrity measures and benefit qualifications on a complex set of issues,” said NAHC President William A. Dombi. “For home health and hospice, it preserves, at least temporarily, the very valuable option of telehealth visits to meet the face-to-face encounter requirements under the respective benefits.”

Dombi has previously said that both “in home health and in hospice, [agencies] delivered telehealth services quite robustly during the pandemic for free. And so now the next expectation is [they’ll] always do it for free.”

Understandably, providers want to be paid for the telehealth services they provide and Dombi believes this may now be possible. “The extension also provides an opportunity to get additional changes in telehealth policy in place such as payment to home health agencies,” added Dombi. “It essentially guarantees there will be a future legislative vehicle to do so, whereas Congress does not have the time to consider those changes now.”

Before the PHE created circumstances leading to the current flexibility, patients were required to have an in-person doctor’s appointment before they could receive home health services.

The legislation would maintain the increase in the geographic locations where Medicare beneficiaries can receive telehealth services.

“We saw telehealth services widely and successfully adopted during the COVID-19 pandemic, now we must ensure those services are here to stay,” Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) said in a statement. “For seniors, traveling to a doctor’s office can be a prohibitive barrier to receiving the care they need, and we cannot allow people who have come to rely on telehealth throughout the pandemic to have that resource taken from them. This legislation brings us one step closer to permanently expanding telehealth services and allowing Americans to continue to access critical health care from the comfort of their home.”

Bill to Extend PHE Telehealth Flexibilities Advances in Congress

Legislation to extend telehealth waivers until the end of 2024 passed by the U.S. House of Representatives late last week, offering the hope that this pandemic-related flexibility could be made more permanent and outlive the public health emergency (PHE), which is set to expire in October. The news is notable because it means that these…

Choose Home Care Act Picks Up Support in Congress

  • Click Here to Urge Congress to support the Choose Home Care Act!

The Choose Home Care Act continues to build support in Congress with the recent addition of new cosponsors in the House of Representatives, including Reps. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL-20), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1), Al Lawson, Jr. (D-FL-5), and Angie Craig (D-MN-2).

We thank the new sponsors of this legislation for their leadership on this issue.

The Choose Home Care Act seeks to provide an option to patients in where they receive their post-acute care upon discharge from a hospital within the Medicare program. If deemed a good fit by the hospital and home health agency for the Choose Home model, a patient could elect to continue their recovery at home with enhanced services and supports added onto the traditional home health benefit. The added services could include personal care services, meal delivery, and respite care, among several others.

The Choose Home Act is a top legislative priority for NAHC. In addition, other supporting organizations include AARP, the Partnership for Quality Home Health Healthcare (PQHH), LeadingAge, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), the Moving Health Home Coalition and others.

Imminent legislative activity is not expected as attention will shift towards reelection campaigns during the summer and early fall. In the meantime, NAHC will continue to build knowledge of the legislation on Capitol Hill, as well as add new supporters to optimize the Choose Home Care Act‘s chances of coming up for a vote.

NAHC encourages all members and home care professionals to urge their Senators and Representatives to support the bill. This can easily be done through the NAHC Legislative Action Center here.

Choose Home Care Act Picks Up Support in Congress

Click Here to Urge Congress to support the Choose Home Care Act! The Choose Home Care Act continues to build support in Congress with the recent addition of new cosponsors in the House of Representatives, including Reps. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL-20), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA-1), Al Lawson, Jr. (D-FL-5), and Angie Craig (D-MN-2). We thank the new sponsors of this…

Choose Home Care Act Picks Up Sponsors in Congress

  • Click Here to Urge Congress to support the Choose Home Care Act!

The Choose Home Care Act continues to build support in Congress with the recent addition of three new cosponsors in the House of Representatives. Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), John Moolenaar (R-MI), and James McGovern (D-MA) have joined 33 of their colleagues in the House in supporting the legislation.

We thank the new sponsors of this legislation for their leadership on this issue.

The Choose Home Care Act seeks to provide an option to patients in where they receive their post-acute care upon discharge from a hospital within the Medicare program. If deemed a good fit by the hospital and home health agency for the Choose Home model, a patient could elect to continue their recovery at home with enhanced services and supports added onto the traditional home health benefit. The added services could include personal care services, meal delivery, and respite care, among several others.

The Choose Home Act is a top legislative priority for NAHC. In addition, other supporting organizations include AARP, the Partnership for Quality Home Health Healthcare (PQHH), LeadingAge, the National Council on Aging (NCOA), the Moving Health Home Coalition and others.

Imminent legislative activity is not expected as attention will shift towards reelection campaigns during the summer and early fall. In the meantime, NAHC will continue to build knowledge of the legislation on Capitol Hill, as well as add new supporters to optimize the Choose Home Care Act‘s chances of coming up for a vote.

NAHC encourages all members and home care professionals to urge their Senators and Representatives to support the bill. This can easily be done through the NAHC Legislative Action Center here.

Choose Home Care Act Picks Up Sponsors in Congress

Click Here to Urge Congress to support the Choose Home Care Act! The Choose Home Care Act continues to build support in Congress with the recent addition of three new cosponsors in the House of Representatives. Reps. Lisa Blunt Rochester (D-DE), John Moolenaar (R-MI), and James McGovern (D-MA) have joined 33 of their colleagues in…

Congress Debates HCBS Expansion, Improvement for Veterans

The Elizabeth Dole HCBS for Veterans and Caregivers ActH.R. 6823 introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month and would work to improve home and community-based services (HCBS) services for patients, their families, and their caregivers.

NAHC previously reported on it here.

Specifically, this legislation would:

  • Expand access to HCBS services for veterans living in US territories and to Native veterans enrolled in IHS or tribal health program.
  • Raise the cap on how much the VA can pay for the cost of home care from 65% of the cost of nursing home care to 100%.
  • Coordinate expanded VA home care programs with other VA programs.
  • Establish a pilot project to address home health aide shortages.
  • Providing respite care to caregivers of veterans enrolled in home care programs.
  • Establish a “one stop shop” webpage to centralize information for families and veterans on programs available.
  • Require the VA to provide a coordinated handoff for veterans and caregivers denied or discharged from the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers into any other home care program they may be eligible for.

Following the introduction of the Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act, the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs held a hearing on the bill, and several other pieces of legislation designed to improve the Veterans Administration (VA) and health care delivery for veterans.

In written testimony, Dr. Julianne Flynn, Acting Assistant Under Secretary for Health Care within the Veterans Health Administration offered support for numerous provisions included in H.R. 6823, in particular the increase of to 100% of what the VA can pay for home based on the cost of nursing home care. Likewise, the legislation received favorable comments from other members of the panel as well as testifying witnesses from the Elizabeth Dole Foundation and the Paralyzed Veterans of America.

NAHC supports this legislation as it will make much needed improvements for veterans receiving home care through increased accessibility, improved coordination, and caregiver support.

Congress Debates HCBS Expansion, Improvement for Veterans

The Elizabeth Dole HCBS for Veterans and Caregivers Act, H.R. 6823 introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives earlier this month and would work to improve home and community-based services (HCBS) services for patients, their families, and their caregivers. NAHC previously reported on it here. Specifically, this legislation would: Expand access to HCBS services for veterans…

Bill to Expand HCBS for Veterans Introduced in Congress

Bipartisan legislation to ensure that veterans are able to receive care in their home for as long as possible has been introduced in the House of Representatives. The Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act of 2022 (H.R. 6823) would expand and improve expand the home and community-based services (HCBS) programs within the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), and align public policy with improved outcomes and patient choice, which is to stay in their own home.

NAHC supports this bill, as it will make much needed improvements to the delivery of HCBS for veterans, enabling options in how and where they receive care, while also working to address workforce shortages and support family caregivers.

Specifically, this legislation would:

  • Expand access to HCBS services for veterans living in US territories and to Native veterans enrolled in IHS or tribal health program.
  • Raise the cap on how much the VA can pay for the cost of home care from 65% of the cost of nursing home care to 100%.
  • Coordinate expanded VA home care programs with other VA programs.
  • Establish a pilot project to address home health aide shortages.
  • Providing respite care to caregivers of veterans enrolled in home care programs.
  • Establish a “one stop shop” webpage to centralize information for families and veterans on programs available.
  • Require the VA to provide a coordinated handoff for veterans and caregivers denied or discharged from the Program of Comprehensive Assistance for Family Caregivers into any other home care program they may be eligible for.

The legislation is led by Representatives Julia Brownley (D-CA) and Jack Bergman (R-MI) and NAHC thanks them for their leadership on this important issue.

At introduction, Rep. Brownley stated, “Over half of all veterans that use VA are over the age of 65, age, combined with their unique health needs, makes many elderly veterans especially vulnerable to going into nursing homes and institutional care. Our nation’s veterans deserve the right to age comfortably and with dignity in their homes.

“I introduced the Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act to ensure that every veteran has access to the care they need, when and where they need it. The focus of my legislation is to keep veterans in their homes for as long as possible, if they want, bringing them the care they need to the place they feel most comfortable, and ensure that every VA medical center has these necessary support programs.

“By expanding home and community-based services, veterans will have the assistance needed to remain members of their communities, to be present in their family lives, to support their caregivers, and to age with dignity.”

Rep. Bergman added, “As the studies show and as many of the older Veterans throughout our Nation will attest, care in home settings is often preferable to care in a clinical facility. This is especially true for those disabled and elderly Veterans living in the rural and remote communities of Michigan’s First Congressional District. The Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act recognizes this reality.”

A hearing on the bill is scheduled for March 16. NAHC will update this issue.

Bill to Expand HCBS for Veterans Introduced in Congress

Bipartisan legislation to ensure that veterans are able to receive care in their home for as long as possible has been introduced in the House of Representatives. The Elizabeth Dole Home and Community Based Services for Veterans and Caregivers Act of 2022 (H.R. 6823) would expand and improve expand the home and community-based services (HCBS) programs within the…