Terry, Thompson propose improving Medicare rights for hospice patients

Reps. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) and Mike Thompson (D-Calif.) recently introduced a bill that would allow physician assistants to treat Medicare hospice patients.

“Patients who are entering hospice deserve to have the peace of mind that they’ll be able to depend on trusted health care they’ve previously received,” Terry said. “Whether it be from the physician or a physician assistant, our legislation will ensure that Medicare patients will be able to depend on this same quality of care they’ve come to know and trust when entering hospice.”

The Medicare Hospice Access Care Act would allow Medicare patients to continue visits with their regular health care provider instead of being switched to unfamiliar physicians after entering hospice. Medicare coverage currently covers physician assistants, but once a patient enters hospice, they must find an alternative provider.

Physician assistants are typically the only health care providers in many underserved regions. Approximately 307 million patient visits were made to physician assistants in 2010.

Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Allyson Schwartz (D-Pa.) introduced a similar bill in June that would ensure seniors and disabled citizens have access to home health services under Medicare.

Their proposed bill, the Home Health Care Planning Improvement Act of 2012, would allow physician assistants, nurse practitioners, clinical nurse specialists and certified nurse midwives to order home health services for Medicare beneficiaries.