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Legislation Introduced to Make Home Healthcare More Accessible

Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) have authored the “Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act.” The bill will improve the access Medicare beneficiaries have to home healthcare by allowing physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and certified nurse midwives to order home health services.

Under current law, only physicians are allowed to certify or initiate home healthcare for Medicare patients, even though they may not be as familiar with the patient’s case as the non-physician provider. In some cases, the certifying physician may not even have a relationship with the patient and must rely on the recommendation of the nurse practitioner, physician assistant, clinical nurse specialist, or certified nurse midwife to order the medically necessary home healthcare. In too many cases, these requirements create obstacles, delays, and unnecessary paperwork to the process before home healthcare can be provided.

The Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act removes the needless delays in getting Medicare patients the home healthcare they need simply because a physician is not available to sign the form required by law.

The Collins-Schumer legislation is supported by a broad coalition of organizations, including the AARP, the National Council on Aging, the American Geriatrics Society, the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, the American Nurses Association, the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the American College of Nurse Midwives, and the Visiting Nurse Associations of America.

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