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Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

Enable Home Care and Hospice that “Aligns with the Patient’s Own Wishes and Care Goals”

United States Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) spoke at the National Association for Home Care & Hospice’s (NAHC) 2016 March on Washington Conference Senate Breakfast. Sen. Whitehouse is a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee and the Special Committee on Aging. NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris recalled that, in addition to attending the Senate Breakfast previously, Sen. Whitehouse spoke last year at a reception hosted by the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations and NAHC celebrating the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid. At that reception, Sen. Whitehouse spoke about the importance of Medicare, saying the program has become so important that many people have forgotten that it is a government program. “They don’t remember that people actually made that happen 50 years ago,” he said. “It only takes courage to make this a courageous time too.”

Mr. Nicholas Oliver, CEO and Executive Director of the Rhode Island Partnership for Home Care in Providence, Rhode Island introduced Sen. Whitehouse. “Sen. Whitehouse is an ardent supporter of public policies to expand access to home care and hospice,” Oliver said.
“Those of us in the Rhode Island home care and hospice community appreciate his long career in public service, fighting to improve the lives of Rhode Islanders.” Sen. Whitehouse’s support, Oliver said, extends to both those working in home care and hospice as well those receiving the services, “many of whom are our oldest, poorest, and sickest Rhode Islanders.”

In addition, Oliver highlighted that Sen. Whitehouse has advocated for post-acute care providers being eligible for incentives within the Meaningful Use program to adopt electronic health records and that he has been “instrumental to expand awareness and access to palliative care services to all Rhode Islanders with chronic and terminal illnesses.”

During his remarks, Sen. Whitehouse spoke about his many of years in public service supporting access to this “incredibly important and humane service.” He also expressed his understanding of the need “to improve access” to home care and hospice. “We need to have a real sensitivity about the intimacy of the moments that you all engage with and the importance of the echo of those moments into people’s lives for years and decades afterwards. The difference between done right and done wrong creates either a lasting emotional burden or a much better feeling,” he said.

Specifically, Sen. Whitehouse highlighted the need for legislation to allow Nurse Practitioners and other health care professionals to order home health services, as well as to establish pilot programs that would remove barriers to care for vulnerable populations.

“We need to enable care in the right setting, at the right time, in a way that aligns with the patient’s own wishes and care goals. There’s not much that’s more important than that,” Sen. Whitehouse said. “We want you all to be able to build the straight stick that doesn’t have to bend and curve around arbitrary rules but can solve the problem of meeting the patient where they want and need to be.”

Sen. Whitehouse said the work of the home care and hospice community “makes an incredible difference in the lives of not just the individual, but the family… You humanize that most intimate of moments that we will all face some day, and that is something that is worth everything.”