Young African American home healthcare nurse checks a senior female patient's vital signs. The senior woman is recovering at home from a recent surgery.

The harsh proposed home health rule is not the only issue firing up home care providers. The Choose Home Care Act is another.

To help the act, which was first introduced in the House and Senate to bipartisan support in 2021, become law, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice is prepared to launch a grassroots effort on par with the push against the proposed rule.

“One is a today issue, the other is a tomorrow issue,” commented Bill Dombi, president of NAHC, at an education session Tuesday on the final day of the Financial Management Conference in Las Vegas.

The bill, which would provide a 30-day episode of home healthcare with additional services such as personal care and therapy, would offer an alternative to skilled nursing facilities for post-acute care patients. While not everyone would take advantage of it — a third of patients who otherwise would go to SNFs would qualify for this benefit — it stands as shining light among pending legislation. One reason for the enthusiasm: The act would modernize the home health benefit, which is essentially unchanged since Medicare became a benefit in 1965.

“We think it’s great policy,” Dombi said. “We think it’s innovative. We think is proactive.”

Deborah Hoyt, who heads the regulatory affairs department for the technology company Axxess, agreed: “This is one of the more exciting pieces of legislation that is coming out.”

She outlined Tuesday the additional supportive services patients would receive under Choose Home. These include part-time intermittent skilled nursing and home health aide services, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech and language pathology, medical social services, medication management, medical supplies and even meals. The delivery of care would entail daily skilled nursing or therapy services through in-person visits and telehealth.

While there is strong support for, there is also is strong opposition to it, Dombi noted, namely from the SNF crowd. Nursing home providers view the legislation as a threat. Dombi pointed out Tuesday that there is room for both types of providers and even offers an avenue for SNF providers to extend themselves into another business realm.

There also is a lot of ironing out exactly how the legislation would work in practice. If the bill passes, it would then go through a regulatory process, which may take a year or two, according to Dombi.

And there is still a question of whether the bill will pass. Dombi noted that the association took the tougher road with legislation as opposed to a demonstration project through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

But he feels confident the support is there in Congress. And the muscle of his membership could make a big difference.

He offered this plea Tuesday to members of the audience on the legislation: “We highly recommend you get engaged.”