Two of the largest advocacy groups for the home health and hospice industries are one step closer to joining forces.
In a joint announcement on Thursday, the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO) revealed that their respective boards have signed a non-binding letter of intent to pursue a possible combination. If realized, NAHC and NHPCO would combine into a new, as-of-yet named entity.
The boards signed the letter sometime this week, according to NAHC and NHPCO.
“The American health care system is shifting, and home- and community-based care options are increasing in a multitude of forms across the country,” Melinda Gruber, NHPCO board chair and president of Caring Circle, said in a statement shared with Hospice News. “With decades of experience in hospice and home care, NHPCO and NAHC members are the long-standing experts, and they are evolving to meet patient needs in a shifting environment.”
Gruber is also the Medical Group and Continued Care Services vice president at Corewell Health for its south region division.
“As we look ahead, we see an opportunity for the organizations representing those providers to evolve,” she continued. “In this time of change, we are acting with intention and care to continue meeting the needs of providers, patients, families and communities well into the future.”
NAHC and NHPCO first shared the possibility of a combination in March, citing their already highly collaborative working relationship. On the hospice front, those efforts include advocacy around the government’s ongoing program integrity push within the Medicare Hospice Benefit.
The organizations have been moving forward under the guidance of a steering comment informed by members of both NAHC and NHPCO, with support from the consulting firm McKinley Advisors.
“The collaborative process of the NHPCO and NAHC boards over the last five months has brought the two organizations closer together,” Kenneth Albert, NAHC’s board chair and the CEO of Androscoggin Home Healthcare + Hospice, said in the statement.
That process has made it “crystal clear” that NAHC and NHPCO can do more by working together, Albert added.
In coming months, the NAHC and NHPCO boards will continue exploring the benefits of a consolidated organization. Ultimately, the process could take anywhere from six to 10 months.
“If the current discussions do not lead to a new, combined organization, the outcome will nevertheless be closer working relationships on behalf of community-based and home care providers,” Albert said.
NAHC was founded in 1982, while NHPCO was founded in 1978.
In addition to the hospice program-integrity push, NAHC and NHPCO have also worked in Washington, D.C., and at the state level, to advance palliative care policy and strengthen Medicare beneficiaries’ access to care.