Tuesday, July 16, 2013
The Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2013, H.R. 2504, introduced last month by Representatives Greg Walden (R-OR) and Allyson Schwartz (D-PA) now has 28 sponsors and cosponsors – up from 19 at the time of the bill’s introduction. The bipartisan bill will allow physician assistants (PA), nurse practitioners (NP), clinical nurse specialists, and certified nurse midwives to order home health services for Medicare beneficiaries.
NAHC strongly supports this legislation and encourages all of its members to contact their lawmakers and urge them to become cosponsors.
Currently, Medicare recognizes PAs, NPs, clinical nurse specialists, and certified nurse midwives as authorized providers who are able to perform many services for Medicare beneficiaries, including ordering nursing home care and prescribing medicine. However, they are not able to order less costly and less intrusive home health care services. Even in states such as Oregon that have explicitly expanded their laws to allow other medical providers to order home care, Medicare will still not certify payment for these services until a physician signs the order.
Those seniors and disabled citizens who see these medical professionals as their primary care providers often need an extra office visit with an unknown physician in order to get the care they need.
In such situations, this impediment merely amounts to extra administrative and paperwork burden, and creates an unnecessary step that fails to recognize current training and scope-of-practice guidelines.
As a result, patients in need of home health care services are either placed in more expensive health care settings, or experience a delay in receiving the care they need. This legislation will relieve that burden for our most vulnerable citizens.
If enacted, this legislation could produce significant savings for Medicare, with one study estimating that the plan would save over $100 million over ten years.
“Studies have shown that the expanded use of these professionals can result in dramatic decreases in expensive hospitalizations and nursing home stays,” said Val Halamandaris, President of National Association for Homecare and Hospice. “We appreciate the outstanding leadership [Reps. Walden and Schwartz] have shown in helping make home and community based services more readily available to our nation’s elderly population and those with disabilities.”
For more information on the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2013, visit the NAHC website.