PACE Innovation Act Reaches Milestone
Dec. 18, 2013 - NPA has great news to share! On Dec. 12, our significant effort to advance legislation supporting PACE® operational flexibility, growth and innovation reached a significant milestone. The Senate Finance Committee included a PACE-related amendment to legislation addressing the Medicare physician payment issue, also known as the "SGR" or "Doc Fix." The amendment would allow for regulatory flexibility, authorize the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to waive Medicare and Medicaid requirements relating to a range of potential statutory and regulatory requirements, and request that CMS address administrative barriers to PACE growth. The amendment was one of only 26 accepted by the committee out of more than 140 submitted. NPA derived the amendment from the PACE Innovation Act (PIA), which NPA and its members developed to outline a series of changes to PACE in support of growth, operational flexibility and innovation.
Our legislative strategy was the result of almost two years of continuous efforts by NPA staff, the Board of Directors, and our PACE membership. NPA worked to develop strategic relationships with key members of the Senate Finance Committee, notably Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Pat Toomey (R-PA), and Mike Bennet (D-CO). These senators became champions for PACE due to the outstanding outreach efforts of St. Francis LIFE, the Pennsylvania LIFE Providers Alliance (PALPA), and InnovAge, who hosted these officials, were a resource to Congressional staff, and collaborated closely with NPA at each stage of the process. NPA thanks these programs for being strong advocates for the entire PACE community.
We also are deeply grateful to Florida PACE Centers, Providence ElderPlace, Trinity/Catholic Health East, and Volunteers of America, who lent considerable staff and consultant resources to build support among members of the Senate Finance Committee. Finally, our thanks to the individuals from numerous PACE programs who made phone calls, sent emails, and visited with their Congressional delegation in recent months. Your combined efforts resulted in strong, bipartisan support for PACE and our policy objectives, without which we could not have taken this extremely important first step toward greater access to PACE and increased operational flexibility.
Getting our language into a bill is a significant first step, but there are several more hurdles to overcome over the next couple of months. Looking forward, several important steps remain:
The full Senate will vote on the Senate Finance Committee bill.
The full House will vote on the companion House Ways and Means Committee physician payment fix bill.
A House-Senate Conference Committee will meet to reconcile the two bills.
Each chamber will vote to approve the reconciled bill.
The President will sign the legislation, making it law.
At that point, CMS will have greater flexibility to work with states to provide PACE organizations with opportunities to serve new populations and provide operational flexibility.
As you can see, there still is a lot of work ahead of us. However, we have been specifically targeting the "Doc Fix" legislation because we are confident that it will continue to move through the legislative process with broad-based and significant bipartisan support. We are hopeful the President will have signed the legislation into law by the time we meet for the 2014 Spring Policy Forum in April. As the legislative process unfolds early next year and conference committee members are selected, NPA will be reaching out to members to assist with advocacy efforts. We will also plan to host member calls next year to keep everyone updated on the process and the new opportunities that this legislation could provide.
For more information, contact Sharon Pearce, vice president of Advocacy, at email@example.com or (703) 535-1574.
Elderhaus Founder Steps Down After 32 Years
After more than three decades, Linda Pearce is stepping down as CEO of Elderhaus, Inc., which provides a PACE program and adult day care services in Wilmington, NC.
"A smart person knows when it's time, and it's definitely time for me," Pearce told the Port City Daily. "The programs have grown so much that it's beyond my ability to keep up with them, so I knew it was time."
Under her guidance, Elderhaus grew from a two-person staff offering a program two days a week to one that serves an average of 150 participants most days. The adult day care center has "really taken off," she said, "and the PACE program is just flying off the wall. It's a great program." She described the program as "a nursing home without walls" that is "ahead of its time."
Pearce credited the Elderhaus staff with the success of the program. "The staff is determined that these people are going to have some fun and have some quality of life," she said. "A lot of them were and are caregivers, and they know how important it is and how big a difference it makes to have somebody stimulated and with their peers, rather than sitting at home in a rocking chair. We do everything we can think of and bring in every kind of volunteer imaginable to make this program work."
She started Elderhaus because she was reared by an elderly grandmother. "She took care of me when I needed her, and I ended up taking care of her as a teenager. I decided I wanted to help families who were trying to keep family members at home as long as they could. I wanted to help caregivers because it's a tough job and they need help."
Her tenure at Elderhaus has been "a fun trip," she said. "It's been a long ride, but it's been wonderful to be able to provide care for the elderly in our community."
Everyday LIFE Sold to Senior LIFE
Presbyterian Senior Living recently announced the sale of Everyday LIFE to Senior LIFE Lehigh Valley, a recently formed entity affiliated with Senior LIFE, a brand of independent PACE/LIFE providers operating in Pennsylvania since 2006.
Everyday LIFE became part of the Presbyterian Senior Living network in 2007 and was the first such program to serve seniors in Northampton and Lehigh counties. Senior LIFE has six PACE centers serving approximately 850 participants in 10 counties.