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Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA)

Home and Community-Based Care is “Just Common Sense”

United States Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a member of Senate Finance Committee, with jurisdiction over Medicare and Medicaid, spoke at the National Association’s for Home Care & Hospice’s 2016 March on Washington Senate Breakfast. Sen. Grassley, who has also addressed previous Senate Breakfasts, is a long-standing home care and hospice champion who has supported and sponsored legislation on behalf of the home care and hospice community.

Sen. Grassley was introduced by Thomas J. Moreland, CEO of Spirit Home Healthcare in Urbandale, IA, who noted that the Senator has gone nearly 23 years without missing a vote. As of January 20, 2016, he had cast 7,552 consecutive votes. “Senator Grassley has a reputation in Iowa for keeping touch with the people he represents and in Washington for standing up for commonsense and holding government accountable,” Moreland said. He further noted that Sen. Grassley is a leading cosponsor of the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act (S. 578), which would allow non-physician practitioners to certify home health plans of care. In addition, Moreland said, Sen. Grassley “has continued his long-standing efforts for rural health care, authoring a major reform to the Medicare formula used to reimburse physicians and other health care professionals in rural areas.”

During his remarks, Sen. Grassley spoke about the importance of home care and hospice. “As Congress continues to debate the delivery of quality, affordable health care for all Americans, we must keep in mind the vital role of home care and hospice care. This very day, as you read regularly in the paper, 10,000 Americans will turn 65 and, with aging, there are more problems. That trend of 10,000 every day is going to continue for a long, long time. The delivery of health care to those seniors will occur across a variety of settings, including home care and hospice, and in between there is a continuum of care… We know that you all serve the needs of chronically ill and disabled and, in the case of hospice, people who are in their last days. While you serve people of all ages, the care you provide to our most vulnerable seniors is exemplary,” he said.

Sen. Grassley also noted that there is a humanitarian aspect to the work of home care and hospice professionals. “I want to commend… all of you in this room for the work that you do. You are humanitarian. You may be in business. You may be paid for what you’re doing, but taking care of people, like you do, is a humanitarian aspect as well,” he said.

In addition to cosponsoring S. 578, Sen. Grassley discussed his sponsorship of the Community Based Independence for Seniors Act (S. 704), which would put in place a demonstration program targeting home and community-based services for low-income Medicare beneficiaries who need help with two or more activities of daily living.

“I have never met one person in all the years of my public life that has said to me I’m just dying to get into a nursing home. I’ve never had anybody tell me that. It’s just common sense. Everyone wants to stay in their own home as long as they can,” he said.

Home care and hospice advocates, Sen. Grassley said, have a “compelling” story to tell, and it is important for them to communicate their perspectives to their members of Congress.

“Because of you, people are able to receive the health care services that they need to live their lives with dignity, or to spend their final days in as comfortable environment as possible. I urge you, in this principle of exercising your right to petition your government, to make your story known while you’re here in Washington,” he said.