Health care reform bills: Side by side

While the details of health care reform, and the outcome of debates and votes, were uncertain at press time, a review of the two health care reform bills under debate do point out two areas that home health and hospice agencies can look ahead to implement.

A summary of the House bill (Affordable Health Care for America Act) and the Senate bill (Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act) refer to two opportunities for hospice to partner with other entities to provide care. The House bill calls for insurance plans to provide information related to end-of-life planning to individuals and provide the opportunity to establish advance planning directives and physician's orders for life-sustaining treatment. Because hospices and palliative care program employees are already providing these services, the potential to expand services might develop with insurance plans.

Both bills call for the creation of an Independence at Home demonstration program to provide health care services to high-need Medicare beneficiaries in their homes. The team of health professionals will share in any savings if preventable hospitalizations are reduced, hospital readmissions are prevented, health outcomes are improved, and the cost of health care services is reduced.

To see the summary and comparison of both bills by Kaiser Family Foundation, go to