Two members of Congress are circulating a letter in support of legislation that would allow non-physician caregivers to certify Medicare home health plans of care.
The legislation, S. 1332, has been introduced previously, but never passed. Now it is receiving support from Senators Susan Collins (R-ME) and Charles Schumer (D-NY) who have circulated the “Dear Colleague” letter among other members of Congress.
A companion bill in the House of Representatives has 68 cosponsors currently.
Sen. Collins has committed to re-introducing the legislation during the 113th Congress, according to the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, which supports the measure strongly.
“Nurse practitioners, physician assistants, certified nurse midwives, and clinical nurse specialists are all playing increasingly important roles in the delivery of health care services, particularly in rural and medically underserved areas of our country where physicians may be in scarce supply,” Collins said in support of the bill.
The challenges introduced by limiting participation in Medicare Home Care Plans to physicians are particularly problematic for those in underserved or rural areas, she said.
“Under current law, only physicians are allowed to certify or initiate home health care for Medicare patients, even though they may not be as familiar with the patient’s case as the non-physician provider,” she said. “In fact, in many cases, the certifying physician may not even have a relationship with the patient and must rely upon the input of the nurse practitioner, physician assistant, clinical nurse specialist, or certified nurse midwife to order the medically necessary home health care.”
NAHC is urging members to support the bill by contacting state representatives.
Written by Elizabeth Ecker