Rep. Tom Reed Supporting Hospice Services through Legislation
Rep. Tom Reed at Hospice Chautauqua County with (L to R) Mary Ann Starbuck of CareFirst of Corning; Rep. Tom Reed; Ron Sellers, President and CEO of Hospice Chautauqua County; Kathy McMahon, President and CEO of the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of New York State, and Edie Reagan of Hospicare of Tompkins County.
Rep. Tom Reed visited Hospice Chautauqua County (HCC) Wednesday to announce the bipartisan Hospice Evaluation and Legitimate Payment (HELP) Act, a bill to ensure hospices, particularly those serving patients in rural and underserved areas, are able to continue offering high quality patient care.
“Our priority is two-fold with the HELP Act: make sure these centers are able to keep their doors open and ensure our loved ones are provided with the same high-quality care patients and families depend on,” Reed said. “By providing seniors with strong end of life care, these centers are also offering families peace of mind.”
Hospice centers nationwide are facing significant cuts over the next ten years as changes to their reimbursement rates are implemented. These cuts could force a number of hospices, especially those in underserved areas, to cut job positions or close their doors altogether.
“This bill is particularly important to our communities here in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes because it places more rural, underserved areas on a fair, level playing field so that they have the ability to provide the most complete care,” Reed continued. “Those in the hospice field provide a great deal of compassion for our loved ones and it is only fair we give them the support they need to continue their important work.”
The HELP Act preserves hospice care by ensuring hospice payment reform does no additional harm by initiating a two-year, 15-site pilot program of any new payment methodologies before they are implemented. The bill also provides timely access to care by allowing nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and physicians assistants the ability to conduct “face-to-face encounters” that determine a patient’s eligibility or recertification for the hospice program. For many rural areas these health care professionals are a patient’s primary care provider.
In addition to hospice employees at Hospice Chautauqua County, Reed was joined by representatives from CareFirst of Corning and Tompkins County Hospice Care, the director of the Hospice and Palliative Care Association of New York State, and a representative from State Senator Cathy Young’s office.
Reed is leading the HELP Act with a bipartisan group of Members from the Ways and Means Committee: Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA), Erik Paulsen (R-MN), and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).