March 27, 2020

Partnership Applauds Inclusion of Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act in Latest COVID-19 Stimulus Package, Calls for Stronger Home Health Relief

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WASHINGTON – The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare – a coalition of home health leaders dedicated to developing innovative reforms to improve the program integrity, quality, and efficiency of home healthcare for our nation’s seniors – today commended lawmakers for temporarily lifting a two percent Medicare sequestration cut, as well as including the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act (S. 296/H.R. 2150) in the newest COVID-19 stimulus package. Both measures are included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (S. 3548).

“We commend Congress for providing temporary financial relief to providers by hitting pause on the sequestration cuts. We also applaud lawmakers for enabling nurse practitioners to certify eligibility for home health – a critical step forward that will improve access to home health for Medicare beneficiaries who are under the care of nurse practitioners and physician assistants. This is a meaningful and much needed change that improves the health care system for seniors,” said Joanne Cunningham, Executive Director of the Partnership. “However, we remain highly concerned that more must be done to support the delivery of home health during the COVID crisis – and quickly.”

The Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act allows nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other advanced practice nurses to certify their patients’ need and eligibility for home health services. Passage of this law will ensure continuity of care and timely access to home health for Medicare beneficiaries under the care of a nurse practitioner. In many communities, particularly those that are rural and underserved, nurse practitioners and other advanced practice nurses direct the care of Medicare beneficiaries, underscoring the importance of enabling them to certify eligibility for cost-effective, patient-preferred home health services. For patients diagnosed with COVID-19 or those at high-risk of contacting the virus, eliminating previous impediments to care is especially important.

“Home health has the ability to play a significant role in addressing this unprecedented healthcare crisis, but we need Congress’ help. We urge lawmakers to take additional steps to enable greater and more flexible use of skilled home health services, which have the potential to provide enormous relief to already overwhelmed hospitals by transitioning Medicare patients to be treated safely in the home setting,” added Cunningham.