Legislative Update: May 28, 2019

In last weeks Member Update, we talked about how ElevatingHOME and VNAA support the introduction of the bi-cameral, bi-partisan Rural Access to Hospice Act (S. 1190/H.R. 2594) sponsored by Senator Shelley Moore-Capito (R-WV), Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Congressman Ron Kind (D-WI) and Congresswoman Jackie Walorski (R-IN).

Currently there is a Medicare Part B statutory barrier which restricts access to hospice in rural communities across the country. When a Medicare beneficiary becomes eligible for hospice, they select a physician or nurse practitioner to serve as their attending physician. Unlike other services, rural health clinics (RHCs) and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) cannot bill Medicare under Part B for hospice services, which prevents some patients from receiving care from their trusted primary care practitioner. We must fix this access issue. 

We are hearing that the bill sponsors will try and run it as a standalone bill, yet are prepared to add it to the Medicare Extenders Package (renewing programs set to expire) in September. With the bi-partisan and bi-cameral support, this is the year with the most traction for this important piece of legislation. A score by the Congressional Budget Office should be made available in the coming weeks and if passed, the enacting date is January 1, 2020. Click here for the bill text.

There are 186 co-sponsors for the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA). If the entire end-of-life community continues to push for co-sponsors for HR 647 and we get 290 co-sponsors, then the bill goes straight to the floor for a vote, bypassing the committee hearings.