Reed touts his Hospice HELP Act

LAKEWOOD There will be money to help rural Hospices if Rep. Tom Reed’s legislation is passed.

Reed, R-Corning, appeared at Hospice Chautauqua County, 20 W. Fairmount Ave., Lakewood, Wednesday to discuss the Hospice Evaluation and Legitimate Payment, or HELP, Act. The legislation includes changes to current laws to help Hospices, especially those in small or rural locations.

As Hospice centers nationwide face significant cuts over the next 10 years, the HELP Act aims to ensure regulations reflect the operational realities of Hospice programs. The bill also works to preserve Hospice care by ensuring Hospice payment reform does no additional harm by initiating a two-year, 15-site pilot program for any new payment methodologies that are proposed.

Ron Sellers, Hospice Chautauqua County president, said the legislation is important for Hospice so they can continue to provide important services to those in Chautauqua County.

”The legislation being introduced is so important … (it) is so critical to small rural communities,” he said.

Reed said his mother received help from Southern Tier Hospice when she was dying of cancer. He said he wants to make sure Hospices, especially those in rural and underserved areas, are able to continue offering high-quality patient care.

”Our priority is two-fold with the HELP Act: make sure these centers are able to keep their doors open and ensure our loved ones are provided with the same high-quality care patients and families depend on,” Reed said in a news release. ”By providing seniors with strong end of life care, these centers are also offering families peace of mind.”

Reed called the legislation ”common sense reform.” He said the bill makes so much sense, the legislation is receiving bipartisan support.

”We’re partnering up across the aisle to make sure this common sense reform is passed,” Reed said while speaking to those at Hospice Chautauqua County on Wednesday.

The bill also provides timely access to care by allowing nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and physicians assistants the ability to conduct ”face-to-face encounters” that determine a patient’s eligibility or recertification for the Hospice program. For many rural areas, these health care professionals are a patient’s primary care provider.

”This bill is particularly important to our communities here in the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes because it places more rural, underserved areas on a fair, level playing field so that they have the ability to provide the most complete care,” Reed said. ”Those in the Hospice field provide a great deal of compassion for our loved ones, and it is only fair we give them the support they need to continue their important work.”

Reed was joined by County Executive Greg Edwards and legislators Vince Horrigan, R-Bemus Point, and Rod Rogers, G-Forestville. Reed is leading the way to get the HELP Act passed with Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Calif., Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.