July 29, 2021
Nation’s Home Health Leaders Applaud Introduction of New Bipartisan Legislation to Expand Access to Home Care
WASHINGTON – The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (PQHH) today commended the introduction of the Choose Home Care Act of 2021. The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Senators Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) and Todd Young (R-IN) and endorsed by AARP, is designed to increase access to care at home by providing eligible Medicare beneficiaries with an additional care option following hospitalization—an important Medicare policy change that will strengthen and modernize the program by offering beneficiaries a safe, high-quality post-acute option for nursing home level services provided in the home.
Original co-sponsors on the bill include Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Bob Casey (D-PA), Susan Collins (R-ME), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), James Lankford (R-OK) and Cynthia Lummis (R-WY).
If enacted, the Choose Home Care Act would enable eligible Medicare patients (as determined by a carefully controlled assessment tool) to receive extended care services as an add-on to the existing Medicare Home Health benefit for 30 days post-discharge. The Choose Home Care Act would help seriously ill individuals to recover safely at home, increase patient and family satisfaction, and significantly reduce the risk of exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus or other infectious diseases. Choose Home also saves the Medicare Trust Fund in avoided nursing home costs for a percentage of patients who are able to receive nursing home level care in the home.
“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, Esq. “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. Thanks to the leadership of Senators Stabenow and Young, we are one step closer to achieving that goal.”
By offering services such as skilled nursing, therapy, primary care, personal care, continuous remote patient monitoring, meals, home adaptations, and non-emergent transportation in the home setting instead of in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) or other institutional settings, the Choose Home model would promote significant cost savings to the Medicare program. An analysis by a respected health economics firm shows the Choose Home model would generate as much as $247 million in savings annually in avoided skilled nursing facility stays. Further, beneficiary advocacy groups, including AARP, have identified care delivered in the home as a key strategy in improving the health and safety of older Americans. AARP has endorsed the Choose Home Care Act of 2021.
“As policymakers consider proposals for moving more care into the home setting, Choose Home is an excellent solution that would protect our nation’s most vulnerable seniors by giving them the option to receive nursing home level care at home after being discharged from the hospital,” said Joanne Cunningham, Executive Director of PQHH. “America’s home healthcare community is well-positioned to provide solutions that improve care for America’s most vulnerable aging and sick populations while also supporting better patient outcomes in a comfortable, patient-preferred setting. More broadly, Choose Home is a first step toward modernizing the Medicare Home Health benefit by expanding access to care in the home for more Medicare beneficiaries. We salute Senators Stabenow and Young for introducing the Choose Home Care Act and urge Congress to quickly pass this bipartisan bill.”
In addition to AARP, Choose Home is also supported by 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.