Federal Update

Last week, Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) joined five other Senators as an original sponsor of S.433, the Home Health Payment Innovation Act of 2019.The Association worked with the National Association of Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and members of our Legislative Committee to urge Senator Shaheen to back this important bill. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) is the prime sponsor.

S. 433 requires CMS to have actual evidence of case mix changes and behavioral adjustments in its new Patient Driven Groupings Model (PDGM), rather than rely on prospective assumptions. Without this bill, home health agencies will experience a 6.42% base rate cut in 2020. The bill requires that any adjustments be phased-in between 2020 and 2029. It also gives CMS the flexibility to waive the Medicare home-bound requirement for Medicare Advantage plans and in ACO models, assuring that patients who might benefit from home care can receive it. S. 433 is the top priority bill for home health agencies this session.

The New Hampshire Congressional Delegation is also supporting several other bills that have been reintroduced for the 2019 Session. Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) is an early co-sponsor of S. 296, the Home Health Planning Improvement Act, which allows APRNs and PAs to certify eligibility and oversee care plans for Medicare home health beneficiaries. This bill has been introduced numerous times, but has never received a score (dollar cost) from the Congressional Budget Office. NAHC is actively advocating for a CBO score so that the bill can move forward. S. 296 was introduced by Sen. Susan Collins in the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Hassan was recently appointed to this powerful committee.

H.R. 647, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA) increases the number of permanent faculty in palliative care at medical schools, nursing schools and other programs, to promote education and research in palliative care and hospice, and to support the development of faculty careers in academic palliative medicine. Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) is the prime sponsor. As of today, H.R. 647 has 92 co-sponsors, including Rep. Anne McLane Kuster (D-NH) and Rep. Chris Pappas (D-NH.) A version of this bill passed the House last year, but did not receive a Senate vote. New Hampshire’s home care and hospice agencies enjoy strong support from our Congressional Delegation. Since we’re a small state, it’s not unusual to encounter our Senators and members of Congress at events. If you have the chance, thank Senator Shaheen and Senator Hassan and Congresswoman Kuster and Congressman Pappas for their continued support!