Dombi: Time to Make Senior Care a National Priority

U.S. Rep. David Cicilline (D-R.I.) is sponsoring a resolution to once again amplify aging-related issues through the Permanent Select Committee on Aging. The committee would aim to better address various issues that affect seniors, such as housing, long-term care and poverty, among others.

A lot of the panel’s focus on its first near 20-year run was on long-term care. That means its second go-around would likely be a positive development for the home-based care industry, especially if committee members become further aware of the solutions that can be found through home-based care.

Cicilline’s resolution — H.Res 821 — proposes reinstating the panel, which was active from 1974 to 1993, but later squeezed out in an effort to save money. This is the third time Cicilline has tried to bring the committee back, but his chances are better now because his fellow Democrats are in control of the house.

Advertisement

“Our nation’s seniors deserve dedicated attention by lawmakers to consider the legislative priorities that affect them, including Social Security and Medicare, the rising cost of prescription drugs, poverty, housing issues, long-term care and other important issues,” Cicilline said in a statement.

If the congressman’s resolution is ultimately passed, the committee itself wouldn’t have any legislative jurisdiction. Instead, it will be authorized to conduct a continuing and comprehensive review of the slew of issues that could affect seniors as the aging population rapidly increases in the United States.

The population changes will affect more than just the aging population, which furthers the justification for such a panel to exist, National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) President William A. Dombi told Home Health Care News.

Advertisement

“When you look at the demographics and the various government programs spending on services and support for people who are aged, these are clearly presenting high-priority policy, business and social issues,” Dombi said. “And that affects not only those direct individuals who would fit into the category of aged, but also everybody else. We really need national attention more today than ever before on those issues.”

That was the committee’s role in the past as well — directing national, broad-scope attention to issues affecting seniors.

The return of the Permanent Selection Committee, some think, is long overdue.

Advertisement

That concept of reviewing and studying relevant and forthcoming challenges for the older demographic will be of obvious help to a country with a population that will skew much older in the next 20 years.

“Medicare, Medicaid, VA services on the health care side — those tend to dominate [attention],” Dombi said. “But you can go beyond that into the population health aspects of things: housing, transportation, dealing with loneliness.”

When more attention is paid to aging issues in general, that attention can be spread out to a wider variety of issues.

“We’ve got to really heighten the national priority in focusing on the elderly,” Dombi said.

Earlier this month, Dombi himself worked to establish that national priority for home health care during a special hearing in front of the U.S. Senate’s Special Committee on Aging. The group of home care industry members that Dombi was a part of discussed allowing non-physician practitioners to certify a patient’s eligibility for some health coverage and the home health rural add-on, among other things.

Companies featured in this article:

,