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Capito, Brown introduce COVID-19 legislation

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, on Tuesday introduced the COVID-19 Hospice Respite Care Relief Act of 2020, bipartisan legislation that would expand Medicare’s hospice respite care benefit during a public health crisis.

Specifically, the legislation would give the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) the authority to allow hospice patients to receive respite care at home and for longer periods of time during any public health emergency, including the current coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“The COVID-19 Hospice Respite Care Relief Act would provide some much needed flexibility for those providing, receiving, and depending on hospice respite care during this difficult time. I’m proud to join together with Senator Brown to introduce legislation that includes commonsense solutions like these, which are needed now more than ever as we all navigate our current reality,” said Capito.

“Respite flexibility for caregivers — who are more often than not, family members of hospice patients — provides a necessary break from a job that requires round-the-clock vigilance,” said Brown. “The best ideas don’t come from Washington, they come from hardworking Ohioans on the front lines every day. This idea was brought to me by hospice providers in Ohio, and I’m proud to introduce this legislation to provide them with the additional resources, flexibility, and support they need during this unprecedented pandemic.”

Under current law, Medicare covers short-term, inpatient, respite care services for hospice patients if their primary caregiver needs a break. Medicare will cover up to five days of respite care if the hospice beneficiary’s primary caregiver is ill, needs rest, or is otherwise unable to care for the hospice patient at that time.”

The existing limitations on Medicare’s hospice respite benefit have made it difficult for family caregivers to utilize this important benefit during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 Hospice Respite Care Relief Act of 2020 would allow the Secretary of HHS to make the hospice respite care benefit more flexible during any public health emergency, helping to meet the needs of both hospice patients and their caregivers by:

∫ Increasing the number of days a patient can receive respite care from 5 days to 15 days

∫ Making the hospice respite benefit available to hospice patients in their place of residence as an alternative to an inpatient setting

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