The Home Care Community Must Rally to Support the Choose Home Care Act

The Choose Home Care Act of 2021 is a landmark piece of legislation for the home care community. If enacted, it would enable eligible Medicare patients to receive extended care services as an add-on to the existing Medicare Home Health benefit for 30 days post-discharge. This legislation would help seriously ill individuals recover safely at home, increasing patient and family satisfaction as well as significantly reducing the risk of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and other infectious diseases.

The Choose Home model also promotes significant Medicare savings—up to an estimated $247 million annually— by offering nursing home level services in the home setting instead of in a skilled nursing facility or other institutional settings.

Further, recent polling data from Morning Consult show strong support for post-hospital care in the home with 94% of Medicare-aged respondents saying they would prefer health care at home to a nursing home. In the same poll, 86% of respondents expressed support for the Choose Home legislation, including 92% of Democrat respondents and 83% of Republican respondents.

First introduced in the U.S. Senate (S.2562) in July by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Todd Young (R-IN), a companion bill in the House was introduced last Friday, October 8, a companion bill was introduced in the House of Representatives. It is vitally important that the entire home care community rally to support this legislation. NAHC advocates have been working for months to build support for this legislation, but now we need your help to get the bill passed by Congress and signed into law.

GO HERE to tell your Senators and your member of the House to vote for the Choose Home Care Act of 2021. It literally takes you only seconds to send a powerful message to your specific elected representatives.

“Since being introduced in the Senate, Choose Home has received an outpouring of support from America’s home health community as well as consumer and patient advocates alike, which we believe demonstrates how important it is to increase access to safe, cost-effective care at home for Medicare beneficiaries after hospitalization. We commend Reps. Cuellar and Comer for their leadership on issues impacting the delivery of home care and are excited to see this bill introduced in the U.S. House,” said NAHC President William A. Dombi, Esq.

The bill is supported by AARP, the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare, Leading Age, Allies for Independence, the National Council on Aging, Moving Health Home, the Council of State Home Care & Hospice Associations, and the Forum of State Associations.

The House companion bill sponsored by Representatives Dwight Evans (D-PA), Tom Suozzi (D-NY), Sanford Bishop, Jr. (D-GA), Brenden Boyle (D-PA), Buddy Carter (R-GA), Vicente Gonzalez (D-TX), Brian Higgins (D-NY), Clay Higgins (R-LA), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Mike Johnson (R-LA), Tom O’Halleran (D-AZ), and Paul Tonko (D-NY).

The Home Care Community Must Rally to Support the Choose Home Care Act

Tell your members of Congress to support the Choose Home Care Act of 2021! The Choose Home Care Act of 2021 is a landmark piece of legislation for the home care community. If enacted, it would enable eligible Medicare patients to receive extended care services as an add-on to the existing Medicare Home Health benefit for…

Bipartisan Lawmakers in U.S. House Introduce Choose Home Care Act of 2021

  • Bill would expand home-based care options for Medicare beneficiaries
  • Strong endorsement of legislation from home health provider and patient advocacy communities

A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives formally introduced the Choose Home Care Act of 2021 on Friday morning, legislation designed to increase access to home health care following hospitalization for eligible Medicare beneficiaries by offering a safe, high-quality post-acute option for nursing home level services in the home.

The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (PQHH) today commend the introduction of the Choose Home Care Act of 2021 in the U.S. House of Representatives by Representatives Henry Cuellar (D-TX) and James Comer (R-KY).

The Choose Home Care Act was also introduced in the U.S. Senate (S.2562) in July by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Todd Young (R-IN). GO HERE to support the Senate version of this legislation. It literally takes you only seconds to send a powerful message to your specific elected representatives.

The House companion bill is also cosponsored by Representatives Dwight Evans (D-PA) and Tom Suozzi (D-NY).

“Since being introduced in the Senate, Choose Home has received an outpouring of support from America’s home health community as well as consumer and patient advocates alike, which we believe demonstrates how important it is to increase access to safe, cost-effective care at home for Medicare beneficiaries after hospitalization. We commend Reps. Cuellar and Comer for their leadership on issues impacting the delivery of home care and are excited to see this bill introduced in the U.S. House,” said NAHC President William A. Dombi, Esq.

The bill is supported by AARP, Leading Age, Allies for Independence, the National Council on Aging, Moving Health Home, the Council of State Home Care & Hospice Associations, and the Forum of State Associations.

If enacted, the Choose Home Care Act would enable eligible Medicare patients to receive extended care services as an add-on to the existing Medicare Home Health benefit for 30 days post-discharge. This legislation would help seriously ill individuals recover safely at home, increasing patient and family satisfaction as well as significantly reducing the risk of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and other infectious diseases. The Choose Home model also promotes significant Medicare savings—up to an estimated $247 million annually— by offering nursing home level services in the home setting instead of in a skilled nursing facility or other institutional settings.

Further, recent polling data from Morning Consult show strong support for post-hospital care in the home with 94% of Medicare-aged respondents saying they would prefer health care at home to a nursing home. In the same poll, 86% of respondents expressed support for the Choose Home legislation, including 92% of Democrat respondents and 83% of Republican respondents.

PQHH Executive Director Joanne Cunningham also thanked the House sponsors and cosponsors for their leadership in advancing this legislation in the U.S. House. “We applaud Representatives Cuellar and Comer, and all the original co-sponsors, for recognizing the value of home health and the importance of advancing legislation to increase seniors’ care options after hospitalization. With their support, we are hopeful we will see the Choose Home Care Act enacted this year in order to help us better protect our nation’s vulnerable aging and sick populations while also modernizing the Medicare Home Health Benefit,” she said.

Bipartisan Lawmakers in U.S. House Introduce Choose Home Care Act of 2021

Bill would expand home-based care options for Medicare beneficiaries Strong endorsement of legislation from home health provider and patient advocacy communities A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives formally introduced the Choose Home Care Act of 2021 on Friday morning, legislation designed to increase access to home health care following hospitalization for…

Senate Approves Budget Reconciliation Guidelines

What this means for home care and hospice How you can help! Earlier this month, the United States Senate approved a $3.5 trillion budget resolution. This resolution will serve as the vehicle for the second part of President Biden and Congressional Democrats’ infrastructure investment, much of which intends to strengthen the social safety net. The…

Key Home Care Spending Approved by House of Reps

On a party line vote, the U.S. House of Representatives advanced the annual appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services for fiscal year 2022, approving $119 billion in discretionary spending, an increase of $23 billion over the previous year.

(Discretionary spending does not include Medicare and Medicaid care related expenses, as that is considered mandatory spending and not subject to the annual appropriations process.)

Following is a summary of the provisions holding impact on home care and hospice providers.

Administration for Community Living

  • Home and Community-based Services: $550 million, an increase of $158 million over FY2021
  • Family Caregiver Supports: $249 million, an increase of $61 million
  • Respite Care: $14 million, an increase of $7 million
  • Falls Prevention: $5 million, consistent with FY21
  • Aging and Disability Resource Centers: $23 million, an increase of $15 million
  • State Health Insurance Assistance Program: $57 million, an increase of $5 million
  • Independent Living Centers: $148 million, an increase of $32 million
  • Assistive Technology: $44 million, an increase of $6.5 million.

Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals

  • $196 million, an increase from $192 million from FY21

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Program Management

  • State Survey and Certification: $472 million, an increase of $75 million from FY21

Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Account

  • $109 million to carry out HHS OIG fraud and abuse activities
  • $113 million to the Department of Justice to carry out fraud and abuse activities

The Senate has yet to act on their appropriations responsibilities, but current speculation suggests it is unlikely the normal appropriations process will be achieved in 2021. In that event, to stave off a government shutdown, a continuing resolution (CR) will need to be agreed to by Congress and signed by the President prior to September 30. Continuing Resolutions typically maintain current funding levels for the various programs and policies already in place.

Stay tuned to Private Duty Source for important updtes on how the appropriations process will impact home care and hospice providers and patients.

Key Home Care & Hospice Spending Approved by House of Reps

On a party line vote, the U.S. House of Representatives advanced the annual appropriations for the Department of Health and Human Services for fiscal year 2022, approving $119 billion in discretionary spending, an increase of $23 billion over the previous year. (Discretionary spending does not include Medicare and Medicaid care related expenses, as that is…

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.

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.