Payment Cuts and Copays

How Home Health and Hospices Can Avoid Payment Cuts and Copays

Speak Out to Protect Home Health & Hospice Benefits.

From time to time I like to share with the readers of my blog, information about causes that others in the Home Health and Hospice industry are sponsoring. As a member of the National Association for Homecare and Hospice (NAHC), a recent article of theirs caught my eye and they have allowed me to share their article with you.

NAHC is urging its members and their friends, family, and co-workers to speak out to protect Home Health and Hospice benefits from payment cuts and copays. Please read their article included below and call, write or email your representatives. You can’t effect change if you do nothing!

Home Care, Hospice Community Urged to Ramp Up Grassroots Campaign
Participate in Action to Protect Home Care and Hospice

The summer recess for the House of Representatives and Senate runs through September 10. 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 either in the short time before it adjourns for the election or in a lame duck session after the election. These issues include further efforts to reduce the deficit and find offsets for the cost of fixing the flawed Medicare physician payment formula (See the NAHC article).

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission and the Congressional Budget Office 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 may also wish to raise other important issues over the recess, such as:

  • providing a fairer, more transparent process for evaluating case mix changes (The Home Health Care Access Protection Act (S.659; H.R.6059));
  • reforming the home health face-to-face physician encounter requirement;
  • reforming the hospice face-to-face requirement and establishing hospice payment demonstration program (Hospice Evaluation and Legitimate Payment Act (S.722/H.R.3506);
  • allowing nurse practitioners and physician assistants to sign home health plans of care (The Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act (S.227; H.R.2267));
  • providing incentives for telehomecare (The Fostering Independence through Technology Act (S.501));
  • preserving federal funding for Medicaid;
  • preserving the companionship services exemption from overtime under the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Sample letters and talking points for these issues are on the NAHC Legislative Action Network web site.

During the recess, NAHC is 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 health and hospice payment cuts and copays.

To help accomplish this, NAHC is embarking on a series of action alerts in NAHC Report during the congressional recess. We will focus on a different way you can make your voice heard.

Following are suggested grassroots action steps we plan to cover in more detail in upcoming issues of NAHC Report:

  • Attend a town hall meeting held by your members of Congress.
  • Pose specific questions to your members of Congress on where they stand on home care and hospice issues (NAHC will provide suggested questions in an upcoming NAHC Report article).
  • Schedule face-to-face meetings with your members of Congress.
  • Invite a member of Congress out on a home care visit — get the media to come along if possible.
  • Attend a candidate fundraiser for a member of Congress and speak with him or her personally.
  • Submit a letter to the editor or op-ed piece to the local newspaper.
  • Call in to a talk radio station and initiate dialogue on home care and hospice.
  • Use online social networks such as Twitter and Facebook to discuss home care and hospice concerns.
  • Contact your state’s governor and ask for support for home care and hospice.
  • Send a message to all employees of your organization asking them to get involved and to write messages to members of Congress through the NAHC Legislative Action Network (NAHC LAN).
  • Send a message to all board members of your home health agency or hospice asking them to get involved and to write messages to members of Congress through the NAHC LAN.
  • Send a message to your past and current patients and ask that they contact Congress through the NAHC LAN.
  • Send a message to physicians who care for your patients asking them to get involved and to write messages to members of Congress through the NAHC LAN.
  • Contact community groups such as local AARP chapters, senior citizen centers, and disease support groups explaining threatened home care and hospice cuts and copays and ask that they send messages to Congress for support of home care and hospice through the NAHC LAN.
  • Contact religious groups explaining threatened home care and hospice cuts and copays and ask that they send messages to Congress through the NAHC LAN.
  • Contact health care officials such as hospital administrators and explain threatened home care and hospice cuts and copays, asking them to send a message to Congress through the NAHC LAN.
  • Spread the word on using the NAHC LAN to help fight home care and hospice cuts and copays through a message to your email contacts urging them to send to at least 10 more individuals.
  • Invite your representative to join the House Home Health Caucus.

WHAT TO DO TODAY

For today’s suggested grassroots action step: Plan to attend a congressional town hall meeting.

  • Go to your Congress member’s website to see if his/her recess schedule is published.
  • If a schedule isn’t published on the website, call his or her local office and inquire as to when the lawmaker(s) will be making public appearances.
  • Review NAHC’s talking points/issue briefs on the NAHC Legislative Action Network.
  • Bring as many home care and hospice advocates with you as you can get.

Speak out at a town hall meeting about the importance of preserving access to home care and hospice and urge your representative and senators to oppose home care and hospice cuts and copays.

August 13, 2012

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