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New Bill Would Permit Verbal Physician Order for Medicare Home Health During COVID-19 Emergency

Monday, June 1, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kyle Simon

Courtesy of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC)

  • Home health care industry supports efforts to improve access to home health and stop the virus transmission
  • Click here to support this bill with just a few clicks of your mouse

New legislation introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, May 22, would allow for verbal physician orders in lieu of signed and dated orders and certification for Medicare home health services during an emergency period. If enacted, this would apply to the current COVID-19 pandemic.

The Improving Care in Home Health Agencies Act (H.R.7006), authored by U.S. Representative Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), is intended to reduce opportunities for virus transmission by limiting in-person interactions of an administrative requirement that can be conducted by simple verbal communications.

Specifically, this legislation would amend what is commonly known as 1135 waivers. In the event that the President of the United States declares an emergency or disaster under the Stafford Act, and the Secretary of Health and Human Services declares a public health emergency (PHE), the Secretary is authorized additional authorities to provide support and assistance to efforts addressing the emergency. These waivers have already been employed for the COVID-19 PHE, such as those issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services the past two months including the 30-day comprehensive assessment completion and 14-day aide supervisory visit requirements. In the case of the Improving Care in Home Health Agencies Act, the waivers would allow for verbal orders for the plan of treatment, the orders of care, and the eligibility certification.

This legislation would also allow care to begin in a more timely fashion, as home health agencies would not be forced to seek out the ordering physician to satisfy all paperwork requirements.

NAHC and HCAF support the Improving Care in Home Health Agencies Act, and we thank and congratulate Congresswoman Velazquez on the introduction of this legislation. The industry will unify to advocate for additional support for the bill in Congress and for its inclusion in future COVID-19 related legislative packages.

HCAF encourages home health agencies and professionals to show their support as well through the HCAF Legislative Action Center Virtual Advocacy Center. Click here to take action now!

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