Kristin Walsh, Health Policy Advisor, U.S. Senate Finance Committee Minority Staff, answers a question from the audience at the VNAA Public Policy Leadership Conference on Sept. 18 in Washington, D.C.
VNAA hosted a very successful Public Policy Leadership Conference (PPLC) on Sept. 18 and 19th. For the close to 90 CEOs and nonprofit leaders in attendance, the PPLC provided an opportunity to gain an insider’s perspective on home health and hospice policy issues, lobby Congress, learn from federal policy makers and national leaders. An additional benefit of the PPLC is the chance for CEOs to share their strategic knowledge with each other and enable a “quick start“ for problem solving and innovation.
This year’s conference was a great success and included keynote speeches from Laurence Wilson, Director, Chronic Care Group, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Mark Miller, PhD, Executive Director of Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, Bruce Siegel MD, MPH, President and CEO, America’s Essential Hospitals and Cheri Lattimer, RN, BSN, Executive Director, Case Management Society of America. Also addressing the meeting were Kristin Welsh, Minority, Senate Finance Committee; Lisa Grabert, Majority, House Ways and Means, Jennifer Friedman, Minority, House Ways and Means.
In very frank discussions, attendees asked congressional staff and policy makers questions such as:
- What does the increase in Medicare home health community admissions mean?
- Why is there such a variation in services and costs based on geographic areas, especially for post-acute care?
- How can we ensure the integrity of the Medicare home health and hospice benefit?
- How do we ensure the long term financial viability of Medicare?
Policy makers also responded to questions from participants on home health rebasing, difficulties with the face-to-face encounter, worries over a home health co-payment, effort to adjust hospice payments to better pay for short stays, and much more. Lastly congressional staff provided their insights into policy and political struggles related to not only home health and hospice but also whether or not Congress will shut down the government, fund the Affordable Care Act and raise the debt ceiling.
A Participant Briefing Packet helped to update VNAA members on key issues. During congressional visits, VNAA members provided staffers with briefs on Home Health Rebasing, Medicare Home Health Copayment, the Value Case for Home Health, and the Medicare Hospice Benefit as well as a summary of the Vulnerable Patient Study completed by VNAA and the Visiting Nurse Services of New York. The study, made possible with the support of the Community Health Accreditation Program, showed that 40 percent of episodes for the most vulnerable patients have costs that exceed reimbursement.
VNAA members reported very productive meetings with Members of Congress and were instrumental in securing signatures from Representatives and Senators for “Dear Colleague” letter from Congress to CMS expressing concern about home health rebasing. Congressional awards were presented to Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), Representative Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) and Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio).