Sen. Gillibrand, Colleagues Press HHS for Federal Home Care Supports

In late August, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand issued a letter to federal health officials seeking vital supports for home and community-based providers in the pandemic.

The outcome of federal coronavirus aid negotiations remains uncertain. HCA calls on state legislators to echo Senator Gillibrand’s concerns, which include: priority access to personal protective equipment (PPE); Medicare telehealth reimbursement for home health agencies; and funding support for Medicaid home and community-based providers and workers.

HCA and HCA member the Visiting Nurse Service of New York have been working closely with Senator Gillibrand’s office on this appeal.

Federal supports — of the kind prescribed in Senator Gillibrand’s letter — must go hand-in-hand with state-level action to ensure that home care and hospice providers have the necessary resources and flexibilities to remain viable to support patients and the health care system as a whole in the ongoing public health emergency.

Many of these issue areas require a state and federal partnership. This includes the appropriation of federal funds for state Medicaid programs and a multi-level understanding of the PPE needs in home care, as extensively reported in this edition of the Capitol Report and previously.

State health officials have already allowed for reimbursement of telehealth remote patient care in the state’s oversight of its Medicaid program; but the federal government has yet to allow telehealth reimbursement as part of the Medicare program that it administers for beneficiaries also served by home care providers. HCA seeks consistency across both programs serving the home care population, with broad flexibility and billing allowances.