Hundreds of practitioners are in town to press their agenda. Chief among their talking points are the industry's cost savings: The industry says it saves Medicaid billions of dollars a year, with the average home care visit in 2009 costing $135 per day versus $1,500 for the average hospital visit.
The advocates decry the healthcare reform law's $39.7 billion in Medicare cuts to home health. They're also worried about proposals by Medicare advisers to impose even greater cuts and to impose co-pays of up to $150 for many home care patients.
On the flip side, the law also increases Medicaid spending for home care services by $13 billion through 2019.
Among the industry's top legislative priorities:
• Ensure that home care and hospice are an integral part of healthcare reform's changes to the healthcare system;
• Defeat the proposed co-pays;
• Increase Medicare payments;
• Repeal or reform the healthcare reform law's requirement that a patient meet face-to-face with the physician who certifies the need for home health services or hospice care; and
• Establish home care and hospice benefits as required benefits under Medicaid.
Lawmakers have already introduced legislation that would achieve some of those goals. Sens. Wyden, Collins and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.) have a bill to allow nurse practitioners and physicians assistants to authorize home health plans of care, instead of waiting for a physician to sign off. Sens. John ThuneJohn Randolph ThuneSenate Republicans raise concerns about TSA cyber directives for rail, aviation Democrats narrow scope of IRS proposal amid GOP attacks Senate GOP signals they'll help bail out Biden's Fed chair MORE (R-S.D.) and Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharGOP blocks Senate Democrats' revised elections bill Progressives push back on decision to shrink Biden's paid family leave program The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Altria - Biden holds meetings to resurrect his spending plan MORE (D-Minn.) want Medicare to support the use of telehome care technologies so people can get the care they need directly at home.