April 11, 2019

Partnership Applauds Introduction of Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2019 in the U.S. House

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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 – commends introduction of the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2019 (H.R. 2150), which allows nurse practitioners, physician assistants and other advanced practice nurses to certify their patients’ need and eligibility for home health services.

The bipartisan bill was introduced by Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Buddy Carter (R-GA), Ron Kind (D-WI), Mike Kelly (R-PA), Susan Wild (D-PA) and David Joyce (R-OH). Counterpart legislation (S. 296) was introduced earlier this year by Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Cardin (D-MD) and also has bipartisan support.

“We applaud Congresswoman Schakowsky and her bipartisan colleagues in the House and Senators Collins and Cardin in the Senate for introducing this pro-patient legislation to enable more seniors to access home health,” said Keith Myers, Chairman of the Partnership. “This is a practical and pragmatic approach to improving access to home health services for seniors who need them most, including those who receive primary care through non-physician clinicians.”

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. Without this legislation, that care stops at the certification process for home health – because of outdated Medicare policies that don’t currently allow these clinicians to order home health for their patients.

Under current Medicare policy, when a beneficiary under the care of a nurse practitioner needs home health, a physician (who may not serve as the patient’s primary care practitioner), has to be called to certify the need for home health services. This results in disjointed care and the insertion of a practitioner who may not be knowledgeable about the patient’s individual care needs. Instead, HR 2150 and S 296 will ensure the clinician who knows the patient best orders the clinically-appropriate care.

“This bipartisan, bicameral bill reflects an effort that is responsive to the needs of America’s oldest and sickest seniors who want to remain in their homes, by ensuring home health is more accessible to these patients. We urge lawmakers in the House and Senate to advance this legislation, which is strongly supported by the home health community,” added Myers.