Hospice Coalition Calls on FEMA for More PPE During Pandemic

A coalition of hospice industry groups have called on the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to prioritize hospice when distributing personal protective equipment to health care organizations during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Signatories on the letter included the American Network of Community Options and Resources (ANCOR), the Council of State Home Care & Hospice Associations, the Home Care Association of America (HCAOA), the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC), the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO), the Partnership for Medicaid Home-Based Care (PMHC), and the Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare (PQHH). 

Community-based home care, hospice, palliative care, and disability service providers are having increased difficulty accessing personal protective equipment (PPE),” the organizations said in the letter. “Priority access to PPE will enable community-based care providers to continue caring for elderly and disabled Americans safely in the home and keep the caregivers on the frontline safe from exposure to COVID-19 and minimize the risk of community spread.”

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FEMA has begun distributing PPE such as N95 masks, surgical masks, sterile gloves, gowns and other equipment to the states that have been hardest hit by the pandemic, including New York state and Washington state. Thus far, however, these efforts have targeted hospitals with little indication of when supplies could be delivered to other types of providers.

“We respectfully request FEMA grant priority status to the community-based home care, hospice, palliative care, and disability service providers in accessing PPE for the delivery of health care services and long-term services and supports during the COVID-19 public health emergency,” the signatories wrote. 

This follows an earlier letter addressed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) requesting legislative action to support hospice and palliative care providers by a coalition including the NHPCO, NAHC, the National Partnership for Hospice Innovation, the Visiting Nurse Associations of America/ElevatingHOME, and LeadingAge.

A number of the actions the coalition requested are including in the COVID-19 economic stimulus package passed by the U.S. Senate and currently under consideration by the House of Representatives, such as the ability to conduct face-to-face recertification encounters via telehealth as well as a temporary suspension of hospice payment sequestration.

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