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Health on the Hill: Removing Barriers to Person-Centered Care Act of 2016

Compassion & Choices is excited to endorse  the Removing Barriers to Person-Centered Care Act which will waive burdensome Medicare regulations so healthcare providers can take better care of people with advanced illness by ultimately setting up to 20 “advanced care collaboratives” of healthcare providers and community-based social service organizations. So what does that mean for a patient? As Compassion & Choices Federal Affairs Director Mark Dann explains, “The Act takes a look a what are burdensome Medicare requirements that becomes a barrier for people to access quality care.”

In short, this pilot program will allow people to receive hospice care and curative treatment at the same time, even for their terminal condition. Patients will be allowed to receive Medicare coverage in a skilled nursing facility without requiring a consecutive three-day inpatient hospital stay, as previously required. Patients will be able to receive home and health services without requiring they be homebound. Furthermore, it will allow nurse practitioners to sign home health and hospice care plans, and certify patients for the hospice benefit if the scope of practice law in their state authorizes them to perform these functions.

Sponsored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (Rhode Island) and Senator Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts), S. 3096 would broaden the sites at which Medicare hospice coverage could be provided to beneficiaries who receive services by listening to constituents. “Targeted pilot projects allow Medicare to test out which ideas work and which ones don’t before setting national policy. It helps to determine what constitutes effective high-quality care,” explains Dann.

So, how did this bill come about? Under current law, Medicare officials have broad authority to fund demonstration projects, or pilot programs, to “test innovative payment and service delivery models to reduce program expenditures … while preserving or enhancing the quality of care.” In a big win for end-of-life care, Congress instructed the secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) to give “preference to models that also improve coordination, quality and efficiency of health care services.”

“Senator Whitehouse has been listening to his constituents about their concerns. They have been telling him about how Medicare is sometimes burdensome and doesn’t fully address their concerns on care at the end-of-life.”

You can access our entire legislative brief on S. 3096 here.