Female rural medical visitor talking with her latin senior farmer patients, in their house, to perform medical examinations. Health home visiting in rural communities, preventing ill health and reducing inequalities.
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A House Ways and Means Committee hearing last week reinforced congressional support for home care, stakeholders said. Home-based kidney care and telehealth were two big topics of discussion.  

“Seemingly, the hearing was setting the stage for consideration of a number of pieces of legislation on these topics,” Mollie Gurian, vice president of home based and HCBS policy at LeadingAge, said during a policy update call on Wednesday. “A lot of the committee members on both sides of the aisle showed up and almost all of them were touting a bill that they were working on in one of these spaces.”

Such bills ranged from narrow regulatory fixes to broader policy change, she said, including legislation that could make permanent some waiver flexibilities implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, telehealth and hospital-at-home programs received waiver extensions as a result of the pandemic. 

“It was a very interesting hearing and there was a lot of support for expanded care at home, generally, which we found to be very positive,” she said. 

Experts supporting home dialysis, hospital-at-home, telehealth and more testified last Tuesday. Among those testifying was Ateev Mehrotra, MD, a professor of health policy and medicine at Harvard Medical School, who recommended policy changes that could make virtual care services more accessible to Medicare beneficiaries.

“I believe it is critical to give Medicare as much flexibility as possible in adapting telehealth policy,” Mehrotra said in his testimony. “Telehealth use is rapidly changing, and policy must adapt accordingly.”

And Nathan Starr, medical director of home services and tele-hospitalist programs at Intermountain Health, advocated for the expansion of home-based services such as hospital-at-home during the Tuesday hearing.

“I have personally seen patient, family, community and caregiver benefits of care at home,” Starr said. “Our positive experience has reinforced our commitment to increasing access to care at home. That is also why we are so pleased to be here today to advocate for the federal health policy changes needed to enable and support current and future hospital-at-home and patient needs.”