Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act
by Kristin Easterling

What:

The Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act will allow physician assistants and advance practice nurses (APRNs), including nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and certified nurse midwives, to sign home health care service orders for Medicare beneficiaries.

Why:

Medicare beneficiaries seeking home health care must currently meet with a physician to have a homecare order signed. This can be burdensome on the patient, particularly in rural areas where the primary health care provider may be a physician assistant, nurse practitioner, clinical nurse specialist or certified nurse midwife.

These health care practitioners are currently not allowed to sign orders for homecare, though they may be more familiar with the patient’s condition and health care needs than a physician the patient does not see regularly.

Preventing a primary practitioner from signing an order for homecare may prevent a patient from going home from an institutional care setting, costing Medicare more money in the long term.

Next:

The Act has been referred to the Subcommittee on Health of the House Ways and Means Committee, and the Senate Finance Committee. Previous iterations of the Act have died in committee, despite bipartisan support.

The Act is endorsed by the American Nurses Association (ANA), the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and the Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA).

For more information visit www.rnaction.org/site/PageNavigator/nstat_take_action_home_health.html.