WASHINGTON, D.C. (October 18, 2019)—Recently the Senate Appropriations Committee announced legislation funding the departments of Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), and Education. This legislation outlines discretionary spending limits allowable to HHS as well as recommendations from Congress on how the money is allocated within agencies and programs. This is an annual process dictating spending levels for the upcoming fiscal year. While much of home health and hospice spending is mandatory and not subject to appropriations there are several programs of interest that are subject to this annual process.
Included within this package is funding for the Administration for Community Living (ACL) to carry out the Older Americans Act, as well as the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA), which is the office that handles appeals of Medicare claims denied for payments for providers. The legislation calls for allowing $182 million to be available to Sept. 30, 2021. This funding level is consistent with recent years’ allocations.
For the ACL, the committee is recommending an overall allocation of $2.175 billion. Within the ACL there are four programs receiving funding of note to home health and hospice providers. They are as follows:
- Home and Community-Based Supportive Services ($385 million)—These funds would be allowable for grants to states for services to allow seniors to stay independent in their homes. Personal care, in-home assistance and home maker services are included in such services.
- National Family Caregiver Support Program ($181 million)—These funds would be allowable for supportive services for families providing care for their loved ones. This would include assistive services such as respite care that would allow family members a reprieve from their duties.
- Lifespan Respite Care Program ($6 million)—These monies would be made available to states through grants to expand respite care services, as well as improve coordination of respite care and improve access and quality of respite care centers.
- State Health Insurance Assistance Program ($49 million)—This program works to provide accurate and understandable information on health insurance options to Medicare beneficiaries and their families.
There is still much work to be done for this legislation to become law. It will still need to be approved by the full Senate Appropriations committee, as well as the entire Senate. Previously, in July the House of Representatives approved their package of similar legislation. Any differences between the two chambers versions will need to be aligned for a final package to present to President Trump.
Visit nahc.org for more information and to track this legislation.