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House Passes Walorski Bill to Help Seniors Live at Home

September 13, 2018
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Walorski_officialU.S. Representative Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) Wednesday applauded House passage of her bipartisan legislation to modernize a program that helps seniors live at home longer. The Comprehensive Care for Seniors Act, which passed by a unanimous voice vote, would bring improvements to Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), which allow seniors with complex care needs to continue living at home.

“Seniors facing health challenges should be able to get high-quality health care while continuing to live in their own homes,” Congresswoman Walorski said. “Innovative programs like Saint Joseph PACE in Mishawaka have proven effective in improving health outcomes and allowing seniors to be more independent. This bipartisan, commonsense legislation will modernize these programs so more Hoosier seniors can live at home longer.”

“We are grateful for Rep. Walorski’s continued support in seeking ways to make PACE more available for the people of Indiana,” said Stacey Newton, Executive Director of Saint Joseph PACE. “PACE is proven to be the most effective way for people with long term care needs to continue to live in the community with the highest quality of life possible.  This bill will allow PACE to grow faster and reach more people and families in need not only in Indiana but across the country.”

“NPA expects the PACE final rule to provide much needed flexibility, in contrast to current PACE regulations, which will allow PACE to grow faster and to operate more efficiently,” said National PACE Association President & CEO Shawn Bloom. “Today we applaud the House of Representatives for passing this critically important legislation. In particular, we commend the strong leadership of  H.R. 6561’s sponsor Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN-2).”

Video of Walorski speaking on the House floor in support of the legislation is available here. The full text of her remarks is below.

“I rise today in support of H.R. 6561, the Comprehensive Care for Seniors Act of 2018. This bipartisan legislation would require the Secretary of HHS to finalize updated regulations for the Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly, commonly known as PACE, while still giving the Secretary the flexibility to make updates and changes to the proposed regulation.

“The PACE program is a proven model for delivering high-quality, comprehensive, community-based health care for seniors. It helps seniors whose health conditions would otherwise land them in a nursing home to remain in their own homes for as long as possible by allowing them to see health professionals and social service providers at local PACE centers.

“There are currently 124 PACE organizations in 31 states that serve over 45,000 Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, enabling them to live safely in the community through the fully integrated services and supports provided. This allows beneficiaries to live longer, experience better health, and have fewer hospital visits. Seniors facing health challenges should have the option to receive high-quality health care while continuing to live at home, and programs like St. Joseph PACE in Mishawaka in my district allow them to do that.

“In 2016, CMS released a proposed rule to update the original guidelines from 2006. A bipartisan group of members of Congress sent letters in November 2017 and June 2018 urging CMS to prioritize updating the existing regulatory framework, which is more than a decade old. The agency has unfortunately not taken any action.

“This much-needed update would allow PACE programs to customize their interdisciplinary team around the needs of each enrollee, provide more services in the community, and give greater flexibility to partner with community providers.”

BACKGROUND

Walorski recently joined U.S. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.), and Judy Chu (D-Calif.) and U.S. Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) in introducing the bipartisan, bicameral legislation.

H.R. 6561 / S. 3338 would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to finalize updated regulations for PACE programs by the end of the year. PACE is a proven model for delivering high-quality, comprehensive, integrated, and coordinated community-based health care to seniors and individuals with disabilities who meet the criteria for nursing home care but wish to live at home.

Organizations supporting the Comprehensive Care for Seniors Act include the National PACE Association, the American Academy of Physician Assistants, the Alzheimer’s Association, and UsAgainstAlzheimer’s.

Currently, 124 PACE organizations across 31 states serve more than 45,000 people. Trinity Health operates Saint Joseph PACE, which serves Hoosiers at a center in Mishawaka.

Walorski represents the 2nd Congressional District of Indiana, serving as a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

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