The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to allocate $96 billion for the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), with provisions that could offer support to hospice and home care providers as well as patients and family caregivers.
The House bill, which also contains funding for the departments of Education and Labor, will proceed to the Senate for its consideration and will likely be subject to change. Following resolution of any differences between the House and Senate versions, the bill would still have to go to the White House for approval.
“This spending bill determines the critical federal investments in health, labor, human services, and education, and builds on this subcommittee’s efforts at the center of the health and economic crises, both of which have exposed serious disparities,” said House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.). “This legislation builds upon our previous emergency and supplemental response packages and represents our critical work to defeat the coronavirus, not surrender to it. From Early Head Start to Social Security, these programs touch individuals and families throughout their lifespan. With this bill, we help our constituents access new cures, new treatments, new research, and new protections to help them and their families live healthier lives.”
Among other provisions, the bill would provider $400 billion in grants to states to provide funds for services to allow seniors to age in place. This is a $10 million raise from Fiscal Year 2020. When measured by days of care, 55% of hospice care is provided to patients’ in a private residence, according to the National Hospice & Palliative Care Organization. Patients’ choice to spend their final days in their homes is often a key consideration in their decisions as to whether they will elect to receive hospice care.
The bill also allocated $193 million for support service to family caregivers, including creating access to respite care, counseling, training and education and support groups. This provision represents an $8 million increase from the prior year’s appropriations.
If the bill is enacted as written, another $10 million would go to improve access to respite care by making grants to eligible state organizations. Respite care is one of the four levels of hospice care, and one for which demand has risen during the COVID-19 pandemic.
HHS is the parent agency of the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The bill does not contain funds for Medicare and Medicaid coverage, which is financed through other means. However it would provide $400 million for CMS state survey and certification processes, up from $390 million for Fiscal Year 2020.
“With this bill, we empower families and communities by making investments to keep up with America’s health care, education, and workforce needs, so every person has a better chance at a better life,” House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita M. Lowey (D-N.Y.) sai