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U.S. Senators Introduce Rural Access to Hospice Act of 2017

Posted on Tuesday, May 2, 2017 6:41 PM

The Rural Access to Hospice Act of 2017 was introduced by U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV).

When patients enroll in hospice right now, they choose a physician or nurse practitioner to serve as their provider. However, rural health clinics (RHCs) and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) cannot bill Medicare Part B for hospice services.

The Rural Access to Hospice Act of 2017 would provide RHCs and FQHCs the ability to receive payment for practitioner’s services while caring for their patients in hospice care.

According to a report from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), hospice care is badly under-utilized in many heavily rural areas. A mere 32 percent of those eligible for hospice care in rural areas use it, compared to 48 percent in urban areas.

“This bipartisan bill improves access to hospice care for seniors in rural areas of the country, including New Hampshire,” said Senator Shaheen. “Granite Staters shouldn’t have to choose between giving up their primary care providers and receiving hospice care. This proposal will help patients and their families receive hospice care and the peace of mind that comes with continuing to see their trusted provider towards the end of life.”

“People in the final stages of life should have access to hospice care regardless of where they live,” Senator Capito said. “The Rural Access to Hospice Act will make that possible by ensuring this critical service is available to those in our rural communities, including many in West Virginia, where hospice care is underutilized. As someone who knows what it is like to have a family member receive hospice care, I understand the comfort and compassionate care hospice provides, and I am committed to making sure this service is available to everyone.”

NAHC supports this legislation and commends Senators Shaheen and Capito for introducing it.

For the full article, click here.

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