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Bill Would Permit More Health Professionals to Order Home Care Services

April 8, 2015

A bill introduced to Congress would allow advanced practice registered nurses and other health professionals to order home health care services for Medicare recipients.

The Home Health Planning Improvement Act would greatly simplify the process of receiving Medicare home health services, the bill’s sponsors say.

If the bill passes, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists, and certified nurse midwives would also be authorized to order home health care services.

The bill’s sponsors say that the bill would remove a significant amount of red tape, giving elders faster — and cheaper — access to home care services. Currently, only physicians are authorized to order home care.

Increasingly, elders prefer to receive services and supports in their own home and communities.

“Our seniors should not have to wait unnecessarily or experience unreasonable delays in their health care because a doctor is unavailable to sign the form that will approve them for home health services,” Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), a co-sponsor of the Senate version of the bill, said in a press release.

“Our top-notch nurse practitioners, midwives, and specialists, who often develop the relationships with these patients, should also be able to provide the final sign-off needed to bring some of our most vulnerable community members the quality care they need in the comfort of their own home,” he continued.

Schumer joined Susan Collins (R-ME) in introducing the bill to the Senate on February 26. Reps. Greg Walden (R-OR), Ron Kind (D-WI), and Danny Davis (D-IL) introduced the bill to the House on March 6.

— by Matthew Ozga

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