Lucy Schmitz, Manager of the Legislative Affairs group for National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) Hospice Action Network (HAN) and Katy Barnett, Director, Home Care and Hospice Operations and Policy with LeadingAge provided word that Congress released final text of the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2022, a $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package to keep the government funded through FY 2023. It passed both the House and the Senate and now heads to the President’s desk to sign into law. The legislation includes three major hospice provisions:
- The extension of the hospice telehealth flexibilities through the end of calendar year 2024
- The extension of the IMPACT Act’s calculation of the annual update to the hospice aggregate cap, which slows the growth of the cap by using the annual payment update rather than Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumer (CPI-U) for fiscal year 2032.
- Beginning January 1, 2024, hospices will be able to include marriage and family therapists and/or mental health counselors as part of the interdisciplinary team.
It also appropriates money to look into developing consensus-based quality standards for high-quality bereavement and grief care. Thanks to advocacy work, the bill does not include MedPAC’s recommendation to wage index and reduce the cap by 20%. Read NHPCO’s press release here.
Additional highlights for 2022 include:
- The Introduction of the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act (PCHETA), which will expand education for hospice and palliative care providers and strengthen our workforce. Urge your Senators to sign on!
- The introduction of the Grief Resilience Investment and Education Fund (GRIEF) Act, which will expand funding for bereavement care. Urge your Representatives to Sign On!
- Congressional support for the creation of a Community-Based Palliative Care Model Demonstration, including the leadership of a letter from Congressional champions to CMS in support of the demonstration.
- With support from NHPCO and LeadingAge following up on the November 28 New Yorker article, Senators Barrasso (R-WY), Rosen (D-NV), Fischer (R-NE) and Baldwin (D-WI), the co-chairs of the Senate Comprehensive Care Caucus sent a letter to Administrator Brooks LaSure and HHS Inspector General Grimm on the proliferation of hospices in California, Arizona, Texas, and Nevada and asked them to take action to investigate.
- ProPublica released a follow up article highlighting the Comprehensive Care Caucus and national trade groups demand for reform.