HELP Hospice Act Vital Legislation Congress Should Approve

At Liberty HomeCare & Hospice Services, we hear all the time from the families of hospice patients, who tell us how our hospice care significantly helped them through the final stages of a loved one’s life. Studies have shown that hospice care can improve quality of life and reduce health costs. Indeed, it’s not surprising that the utilization of hospice care continues to grow.

Affordable Care Act’s Impact on Hospice Care

The Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has promoted Hospice Services for the last two decades.  That growth could face challenges in the coming years as a result of the Affordable Care Act, which recommends changes to hospice payment authority and a new face-to-face requirement for Medicare hospice patients.

HELP Hospice Act

But the proposed HELP Hospice Act can help patients adjust to those changes, while making the transition easier. The HELP Hospice Act, which has already received bipartisan support in the U.S. House of Representatives, features three core segments.

  • Any new payment methodology must first go through a two-year, 15-site demonstration program. This pilot program can help develop the reliable, evidence based, comprehensive data needed to determine which payment reform approach is best.
  • The HELP Hospice Act would increase hospice survey frequency, on average, to once every three years. This increase from the current average of 6 to 8 years would provide a better certification process, and allow for improved and appropriate regulatory oversight.
  • The HELP Hospice Act would modify the face-to-face encounter requirement by allowing clinical nurse specialists and physician assistants to also conduct the encounter, and allow hospice agencies seven days after the initial election of services to complete the requirement. These changes would help all agencies and particularly help small and rural hospices, which face operational constraints and may have to turn down patients who are most in need.

Many of the HELP Hospice Act’s principles do not cost any additional money, while still making a big difference for hospice organizations and their patients. All hospice patients and their families deserve the opportunity for the best care possible, and the HELP Hospice Act is a major step in that direction.


Tony Zizzamia

President, Liberty HomeCare & Hospice Services