WASHINGTON, Maryland—The National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) have laid out an “aggressive timeline” to possibly merge the two organizations and rebrand, NAHC President Bill Dombi said.
“At some point in 2024, the two organizations, if we get to the finish line, will become one,” Dombi said. But because there’s not a solid commitment to combining, he said, both NAHC and NHPCO will continue to operate independently and maintain their separate—and overlapping—membership bases.
In August, the two advocacy groups announced they had signed a letter of intent to pursue the creation of a new, combined organization. The new entity would launch consolidated operations on July 1, 2024, with definitive agreements completed Dec. 31, 2023, according to a timeline Dombi shared at NAHC’s Home Care and Hospice Conference and Expo just outside Washington, D.C.
“We’re not taking NHCPO and NAHC and bringing them together, we’re looking toward the future and what are we going to need as an association five or 10 years down the road—and how do we build that now,” said NAHC Board Chair Kenneth Albert III.
So far, the two groups have launched combined work groups to look at a range of topics together. And in November, planning should begin for a CEO search, the timeline says.
Meanwhile, Dombi said, it’s crucial that membership levels remain stable at both NAHC and NHPCO; he said they’re especially encouraging dual members to remain dual members in 2024 and a dues structure would kick off in 2025 if the merger happens.
There’s still a possibility it won’t, he said.
“All kinds of things can happen. We’re trying to make it a plus for everybody,” he said. Some negative responses may come from people who are concerned hospice won’t be as central to the mission of a combined group, Dombi admitted—but he said those detractors aren’t aware that hospice issues are currently a focus for NAHC.
Even if the merger stalls, he said, the industry needs to be able to work as one, especially when lobbying Congress, whether that’s as a single organization or a collaboration of groups speaking with one voice.
“There’s a maxim in DC: If you’re divided … you have the risk of getting double screwed.”
There were frequent references during the conference to Dombi’s own impending retirement—although a date has not been announced and he said he plans to stay in leadership at least through 2024—and the organization’s longtime head brought his granddaughters to the stage during a general session to introduce them, saying he wants to devote more time to his family.
NAHC also formally introduced two new team members—Niles Godes, senior vice president for advocacy, and Damon Terzaghi, director of Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services and bid farewell to vice president of hospice policy Theresa Forster, who is retiring.