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Home Health and Hospice Industry Remembers John Lewis

Monday, July 20, 2020   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Kyle Simon

United States Representative John R. Lewis (D-GA), the revered civil rights leader who served 17 terms in Congress, died on Friday, July 17.

On behalf of the home health and hospice industries, Bill Dombi, Esq., president of the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), remembered Congressman Lewis his service, leadership, and dedication. The full text of Dombi's eulogy follows.

July 18, 2020

United States Representative John R. Lewis died last night. His passing has triggered a multitude of plaudits with such descriptions as “icon,” “crusader,” “eminence,” and many more superlatives that he well deserved. While the nation knew him as a preeminent civil rights leader, the home care and hospice community knew him as one of our “Home Care Heroes.” He took on advocacy for home care and hospice with the same vigor and passion that he led the fight for full civil rights. For Congressman Lewis, care in the home was a civil right.

Almost immediately after he came to Congress in 1987, Congressman Lewis became a strong advocate for home care and hospice. That was the year I came to Washington also, to work for the National Association for Home Care. Then NAHC President, Val J. Halamandaris, a veteran on many congressional battles for home care, was quick to embrace the Congressman and to help connect him with Claude Pepper, another icon of advocacy for home care. That began a 33-year relationship with the home care and hospice community.

During his time in Congress, Congressman Lewis was always there to support whatever legislation was needed to strengthen home care and hospice. He sponsored virtually every bill advanced by the home care community over his 33 years in Congress. In 1987 alone, he cosponsored five crucial bills designed to rescue the Medicare home health benefit from what we labeled as the “Attempted Dismantling of Home Health Care.” He joined the fight against the infamous Medicare Home Health Interim Payment System and the effort to expand financial support for Medicare home health services as the Prospective Payment System began in 2000. He was also a very early hospice supporter, cosponsoring legislation to bolster rural hospice, in-home respite care, and Medicaid hospice.

Congressman Lewis never faltered in his support for home care and hospice. Most recently, he was there for us as Medicare sought to reform the home health services payment model into what is now known as the Patient-Driven Groupings Model. He was also among those in Congress who saw the value of telehealth in the home. I could go on for a thousand more instances where he was a stalwart and passionate advocate for the right to receive high quality care at home. He was always willing to “cross the aisle” to work in a bipartisan manner to get what was needed to expand access to health care at home. Former House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady praised Congressman Lewis with the highest honor a member of the opposite party could ever offer. He called Lewis a “friend.”

Please take some time to gain an understanding of John R. Lewis. He was an amazing man, citizen, public servant, and unwavering advocate for home care and hospice. The home care and hospice community will miss him greatly.

William A. Dombi, Esq.

Associate Members