The president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), which represents 33,000 home care and hospice organizations and two million nurses, therapists and other caregivers, has died after a long illness, the group announced Thursday.
Val J. Halamandaris served as NAHC’s president since 1982, when the group was formed through the merger of the National Association for Home Health Agencies and the Council of Home Health Agencies. He also was counsel to the U.S. Senate and House Committees on Aging for over 20 years.
“Often referred to as the ‘leader of the last great civil rights movement,’ Val worked tirelessly for 50 years to improve the lives and secure the rights of America’s elderly and infirm,” the NAHC wrote in a press release.
In his earlier years, Halamandaris worked on the staff of Senator Frank E. Moss (D-UT) in Washington, D.C. He also attended George Washington University and enrolled in Catholic University Law School.
In 1967, Halamandaris and Moss helped set minimum federal standards for nursing homes with the “Moss Amendments.” Two years later, he began leading an investigation of nursing homes around the U.S., an eight-year search that eventually culminated in a 12-volume report for Congress, his first of 25.
Then, in 1972, Halamandaris helped create the first hearings on hospice and wrote the original legislation to provide Medicare coverage for hospice, the NAHC noted. His work dealing with Medicare and Medicaid fraud also prompted the federal government in making such abuses a felony.
Additionally, the late NAHC president worked with Rep. Claude Pepper (D-FL) in the House of Representatives to reform the sale of health insurance to seniors.
“As a talented attorney and skillful congressional veteran, Val was deeply respected in Washington and across the U.S. as a brilliant mind and creative thinker,” said Dave Totaro, Chairman of the Partnership for Medicaid Home-Based Care (PMHC), in a statement. “But those who were blessed to know Val will remember his heart and compassion even more clearly. Val’s boundless energy was borne of his love and devotion to his fellow men and women, and those unique qualities not only propelled him day after day but served as an inspiration to us all.”
Halamandaris’s life work also earned him praise from former U.S. President Bill Clinton, who once called him “a remarkable human being and one of the most exceptional people that I have ever known.”
Written by Tim Regan
Photo courtesy of NAHC