AAPA Commends Senate for Including Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act in COVID-19 Emergency Legislation
Change Authorizes PAs to Move Patients Home, Free Up Hospital Beds
Contact: Jenni Roberson, (703) 380-2764
ALEXANDRIA, Va. (March 26, 2020) – The American Academy of PAs applauds the U.S. Senate for passing the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act (S. 296/H.R. 2150) as an inclusion in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or the “CARES Act” (H.R. 748). The CARES Act also takes actions to bolster our nation’s healthcare response, including more than $1.6 billion for the Strategic National Stockpile to procure pharmaceuticals, personal protective equipment (PPE), and other medical supplies, which can be distributed to state and local health agencies in areas with shortages.
The legislation will provide significant assistance to American families and small businesses, bolster the healthcare response, and stabilize the economy during the coronavirus emergency.
Including the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act in the CARES Act will permanently authorize PAs and NPs to order home healthcare services for Medicare patients (in a manner consistent with state law). As healthcare facilities gird for an influx of COVID-19 patients, capacity will become a critical issue, and this authorization will ease some of that burden.
“Fast-tracking this bill by including it in the emergency COVID-19 legislation was critical. With the ability to order home health services, PAs can help to free up hospital beds for COVID-19 patients and decrease the spread of the virus by moving patients back into the home setting, away from exposures to the virus,” said David E. Mittman, PA, DFAAPA, president and chair of the AAPA Board of Directors. “We applaud the Senate for enabling PAs to contribute more to the COVID-19 response.”
Under previous Medicare rules, only physicians could certify patients to receive home health services – medical care provided in a patient’s home that can include skilled medical care, respiratory therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. This was despite the fact that many patients receive their regular care from PAs, NPs, or other advanced practice medical providers.
This federal restriction disrupted continuity of care for patients that rely on PAs for care. It also could deny or delay the availability of care for seniors and the disabled – two groups who need increased access to high-quality care during the COVID-19 response.
This legislation will improve access to home health services and promote continuity of care for Medicare beneficiaries, particularly patients living in rural and other medically underserved communities. Decades of data support the ability of PAs to provide high-quality care to people of all ages, including Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions. PAs may be the only providers available in medically underserved rural and urban regions.
The Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act was introduced with strong bipartisan, bicameral support.
“AAPA would like to thank Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Ben Cardin (D-MD), who introduced the bill in the Senate, as well as Representatives Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Buddy Carter (R-GA), Ron Kind (D-WI), and Mike Kelly (R-PA) who introduced the bill in the House, as well as the bill’s 47 cosponsors in the Senate and 140 cosponsors in the House,” said Tillie Fowler, AAPA’s senior vice president, Advocacy and Government Relations.
“The Senate’s recognition of the need to pass this legislation now and their leadership in ensuring its inclusion in the emergency legislation demonstrates their commitment to ensuring healthcare providers are empowered to do everything they can for patients across our country. AAPA looks forward to the CARES act being expeditiously considered by the House of Representatives and signed into law.”
About the American Academy of PAs
AAPA is the national membership organization for all PAs. PAs are medical professionals who diagnose illness, develop and manage treatment plans, prescribe medications, and often serve as a patient’s principal healthcare provider. Learn more about the profession at aapa.org and engage through Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter.