September not only means back to school, it also means Congress is back in session, trying to wrap up its legislative business before the end of the year. One of the things they’ll be working on is a package of bills called “Medicare extenders” – basically, they pull together a bunch of different Medicare policies, like physical therapy, hospital add-ons, rural ambulance funding, etc., into one big bill. Heart ‘n Home would like to get the Rural Access to Hospice Act included in that bill, but to do so; we need to have a lot more cosponsors on the bill. We need your help!
About the Rural Access to Hospice Act
When patients enroll in hospice, they select a physician or nurse practitioner to serve as their attending physician. The attending physician collaborates with the hospice in the development of the care plan, and is kept informed of the patient’s care. Unfortunately, Rural Health Clinicians or Federally Qualified Health Clinicians are statutorily prohibited from providing or getting paid for hospice attending physician services. As a result, rural patients can keep their doctor but not get hospice, or choose hospice and lose their doctor. This is a choice no patient should have to make.
The Rural Access to Hospice Act helps address the needs of under-served rural and urban communities, specifically with regard to access to critically important end-of-life care. Rural health centers (RHCs) provide primary care in more than 4,000 communities across the country. Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) promote primary care service delivery in under-served urban and rural communities. Over 21 million Americans were served at 9,000 FQHC sites in 2013. For some patients, RHCs and FQHCs are their only source for primary care.
The Rural Access to Hospice Act would correct this problem, and make sure that all patients – regardless of their zip code – can get high quality end-of-life care.
This is how YOU can get Members of Congress to support this bill:
1. Please Call Congress and let them know that all Americans deserve access to quality end-of-life care, regardless of their zip code.
2. Please follow up with an email to Congress, reiterating your support for the Rural Access to Hospice Act.
Thank you for making time to help rural hospice patients. Please share these links far and wide!