Washington Update

A "Dear Colleague" letter being circulated in the Senate and signed by Sens. Christopher Bond (R-MO), James Jeffords (R-VT), and Susan Collins (R-ME) seeks support for the legislation eliminating the 15% across-the-board cut scheduled for Oct. 1, 2001. The Home Health Payment Fairness Act has 26 co-sponsors in the Senate, according to Collins. The letter, and a similar one being circulated in the House, argues that the Home Health Payment Fairness Act is needed to respond to overreaching by the Balanced Budget Act of 1997 (BBA). At the National Association for Home Care’s (NAHC; Washington) recent policy conference in Washington, President Val Halamandaris urged home health agency executives to hit Capitol Hill with the message that the dismantling of the Medicare home care benefit is " a tradegy that needs to be addressed." He said that by NAHC’s count, 4,000 agencies have gone out of business since passage of the BBA.

The American Association for Homecare (Alexandria, VA) said last week that it confirmed Rep. Bill Thomas (R-CA), chairman of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee, as the keynote speaker of its inaugural Annual Washington Conference. The conference is June 14-15.