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U.S. Representatives Introduce Legislation to Improve Access to Hospice Care in Rural Areas

Posted on Thursday, July 28, 2016 2:47 PM

U.S. Representatives Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Ron Kind (D-WI) recently introduced legislation to the Rural Access to Hospice Act (H.R. 5799), allowing rural health clinics (RHCs) and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) to receive Medicare payment for physicians’ services in hospice care.

When the legislation was introduced earlier this year, the Senators spoke about its importance. “People in the final stages of life should have access to the compassionate care that hospice provides regardless of where they live. As someone who cared for aging parents and experienced firsthand what it is like to have a family member receive hospice care, I am committed to making sure this critical service is available in our rural communities. In West Virginia, this legislation will help ensure that patients and their loved ones have access to the peace, comfort and dignity hospice care provides,” said Senator Capito.

“This bipartisan bill improves access to hospice care for seniors in rural areas of the country, particularly in New Hampshire,” said Senator Shaheen. “This is a common sense proposal that will help patients and their families get hospice care and the peace of mind that comes with choosing their own doctor.”

Right now, RHCs and FQHCs cannot bill or be reimbursed for the physician services to hospice patients. This legislation provides a practical fix to let physicians employed by RHCs and FQHCs provide attending physician services and permit the RHC or FQHC to bill Medicare for those services.

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