On Nov. 7, Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) initiated a "Dear Colleague" letterÂÂ to encourage other senators to co-sponsor the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2013. The letter notes endorsements of the legislation by VNAA, AARP, NAHC, the American Academy of Nurse Practitioners , the American Academy of Physician Assistants and the American College of Nurse Midwives.
The Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2013 amends title XVIII (Medicare) of the Social Security Act to allow payment for home health services to Medicare beneficiaries by: (1) a nurse practitioner, (2) a clinical nurse specialist working in collaboration with a physician in accordance with state law, (3) a certified nurse-midwife, or (4) a physician assistant under a physician's supervision.
The bill would change Medicare regulations to allow APRNs to sign home health plans of care and certify Medicare patients for home health and will help deliver vital care to older adults without unnecessary delays. This is especially important to seniors living in communities where access to physicians is limited, including underserved urban and remote rural areas.
Sen. Collins, a champion for home health and nurse practitioners for many years, introduced the senate version of the bill, S. 1332, in July of this year. The bill has been referred to the Senate Committee on Finance. S. 1332 current co-sponsors include Sens. Christopher A. Coons (D-DE), Tim Johnson (D-SD), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Lisa Murkowski(R-AK), Jack Reed(D-RI), Charles Schumer(D-NY), Jean Shaheen( D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), and Sheldon Whitehouse, (D-RI). Find more details on S. 1332 here.
While the Collins-Schumer letter encourages senators to sign onto S. 1332, a similar effort is underway in the House of Representatives to seek co-sponsors for H.R. 2504, which is an identical bill. H.R. 2504 was introduced by Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR) in June. There are currently 68 cosponsors and more details on the bill and a list of co-sponsors is available here.
VNAA members can help by contacting their senators and representatives and asking them to co-sponsor S. 1332 or H.R. 2504 respectively. Contact your members of Congress.