healthcare worker takes notes with masked patient

Home health advocates are applauding bipartisan legislation introduced Thursday that would expand care into the home.

The Choose Home Care Act of 2021 lets a Medicare patient receive extended care services as an add-on to the existing Medicare Home Health benefit for 30 days following a hospital discharge. The legislation is considered an important policy change aimed at strengthening and modernizing the program by allowing beneficiaries to receive high-quality nursing home level care at home.

William Dombi headhot
William Dombi

“The Choose Home Care Act represents a tremendous step forward for Medicare beneficiaries who would prefer to recover at home, but have been previously prevented from doing so under current policy restrictions,” National Association for Home Care and Hospice (NAHC) President William A. Dombi said in a statement. “Given the many benefits of accessing healthcare and support services at home, as well as the importance of protecting vulnerable patients from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, this must-pass legislation would go a long way to improve seniors’ health in a safe, cost-effective way.”

The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (PQHH) also lauded the legislation. 

“As policymakers consider proposals for moving more care into the home setting, Choose Home is an excellent solution that would protect our nation’s most vulnerable seniors by giving them the option to receive nursing home level care at home after being discharged from the hospital,” Joanne Cunningham, executive director of PQHH, said.

Sen. Susan Collins
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)

A bipartisan team including Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) introduced the bill, which covers services including skilled nursing, therapy, primary care, continuous remote patient monitoring, meals, home adaptations and non-emergency transportation.

An analysis of the legislation commissioned by PQHH found it could save Medicare approximately $247 million annually in avoided stays in skilled nursing facilities.

Along with NAHC and PQHH, AARP, LeadingAge, Moving Health Home and the National Council on Aging also support the bill.

LeadingAge said Choose Home would make America a better place to grow old.

“Older Americans are not a monolithic group. They have unique desires, challenges and life circumstances. They should have access to a range of affordable care and services that meet their needs,” LeadingAge President and CEO Katie Smith Sloan said.

A recent online survey by LeadingAge of 800 U.S. adults found the overwhelming majority favored building a better system of care for older adults.

This article originally appeared on McKnight's Senior Living