Oregon Representative Greg Walden has introduced legislation to streamline access to home health care services for seniors on Medicare.
To qualify for home health services under Medicare, a doctor needs to certify that a patient is both in need of care and unable to leave home to receive it. A mid-level practitioner like a physician’s assistant or a clinical nurse specialist can visit the patient at home to assess that need. But final approval needs to be given by the doctor.
Walden’s bill, which he introduced with Democrat Allyson Schwartz of Pennsylvania, would allow mid level-practitioners to give that approval, just as they already do for things like nursing home care and prescription drugs.
“Not only are these clinicians serving on the front lines of primary care, but also in many areas they’re the only options readily available,” said Walden, in a video posted on YouTube.
The Congressional Budget Office hasn’t scored the bill yet, but a 2011 study commissioned by the National Association for Home Care & Hospice and the American Nurses Association found the change would save $100 million over 10 years. Both groups have endorsed the bill.