NAHC Staff Members Discuss Legislative and Political Issues

Panel Focuses on Key Areas to Target Before and After Election Day

National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) President Val J. Halamandaris said his organization supports members of both political parties who back home health and hospice care.

Halamandaris and NAHC staff members engaged in a short panel discussion on the legislative and policy issues impacting the industry during the 2012 Annual Meeting and Exposition being held in Orlando, FL. this week, a short two weeks before the presidential election.

The presidential race between President Barack Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney is nearly too close to call with a near-even polling with each garnering roughly 48 percent of likely voters.

Theresa Foster, NAHC’s Vice President for Hospice Policy & Programs, said it was difficult to say who would win. “People are engaged in ways I haven’t seen before.” NAHC Vice President for Law William A. Dombi, said that in a close race such as this, you go with the incumbent.

“Both Obama and Romney care about home care. I give slight edge to Obama since he is the incumbent and there has been a slight improvement in the economy,” said Jeffrey Kincheloe, Vice President for Government Affairs at NAHC.

Shannon Lovejoy, associate director for government affairs, said the House and Senate will likely remain the same but no matter who wins, working with both parties is advantageous.

On sequestration, the automatic cuts set to trigger in January with congressional intervention, Dombis said he didn’t think there was a path to agreement during a lame duck session. He predicted that Congress would delay sequestration, but that Medicare and Medicaid would be vulnerable if it triggers.

Dombi pointed out that whatever happens there would be changes in Medicaid. “In Republican-dominated states like Ohio, there will be pressure to reduce Medicaid whatever happens and shut down nursing homes as much as possible,” he said.

Halamandaris said that NACH would have to make resistance to copays a top priority.

Forster said on hospice payment reform, it wasn’t certain when it would take place. “We have some things to clear up in terms of hospice, like face to face and requirement for surveys to ensure compliance,” she said.

On technology, Halmandaris said an aggressive move should be made to convince Congress to make it easier for the industry to use technology. And on fraud, Colin Roskey, NAHC Counsel, said that most of reports about fraud come from the increased number of providers. “The more providers; the more fraud,” he said. “We think there should be a temporary moratorium on providers.”

Kincheloe said that members of Congress don’t have time to focus on individual issues, so one constituent can make a difference. “We need more ambassadors to make a difference. Please step forward and be an ambassador to your congressperson.”

Dombi agreed. “Turn up the volume. We care for 12 million people a year. We care for too many people to be so quiet.”

From the NAHC Report Article