Twitter Handbook for Politicians is Epic…and Useful!

So I know many if not most of you do not spend a large part of your day on social media; you are busy taking care of patients! So you may have missed this little gem from NPR this week: “Twitter has a 136-page handbook for politicians and it’s hilarious“. Yes, even though Twitter itself only gives you 140 characters (although that may be changing), the handbook on how to use it almost as many pages. So many, many more characters.

Now I know some of you may be like, “Hey, don’t make fun, I need a Twitter manual! Social media is complicated!” And to that I say….go here! You can download the exact manual for free and explore all of its content. And to those of you who are Twitter professionals….I still say go here! Everyone should check out this manual, not only because it covers everything from the basics to more advanced Twitter tools, but also because it lets you see into the minds of the Members and staffers who you are trying to influence.

TwitterHandbookFrom the Twitter website: In this handbook, you’ll find:
Content strategies. Discover new and innovative strategies to grow your Twitter presence and engagement rate, including step-by-step instructions on how to execute a Twitter Q&A and how to make the best use of photos and video.

Advanced Twitter tools. Maximize the impact of your account by integrating Twitter into your events and leveraging the full suite of Twitter tools such as TweetDeck, Twitter for websites and mobile notifications.

Twitter basics. Brush up on the fundamentals to set up and build a secure and effective account for your elected official, campaign, agency or initiative.

So basically this is a useful document for any advocate/organization to have! Do you have any questions on using social media? Let us know, we’d love to help you out!


A Hearty Welcome to New VP for Public Policy, Sharon Scribner Pearce!

NHPCO and the Hospice Action Network are happy to announce that we have a new Vice President of Public Policy, Sharon Scribner Pearce! Sharon is a much-anticipated and welcome addition to our team, and we hope you will all make her feel welcome to the larger movement! I asked her to please introduce herself to you all with a short message: 

Sharon also surprised the HAN team with peanut M&Ms on her first auspicious start indeed!
Sharon also surprised the HAN team with peanut M&Ms on her first day…an auspicious start indeed!

Greetings Hospice Action Network!  I just wanted to take a minute to introduce myself.  I joined NHPCO on Monday as the new VP for Public Policy (i.e., the new Angie Truesdale).  I come to NHPCO with almost 20 years of health policy experience, most recently as VP of Advocacy for the National PACE Association. I also spent about 6 years on Capitol Hill, 5 years as a hired-gun lobbyist at a large K Street firm, and 3.5 years at Girl Scouts of the USA.  So I know health care, politics, trade associations and Girl Scout cookies pretty well.

That said, I still have a lot to learn about how things work in the hospice universe, and will be looking to you all  – the folks at the front line of the hospice movement – to better understand how regulations and policies affect your ability to serve patients, what threats and challenges are keeping you up at night, and how you think policy change can improve your ability to deliver care.  I’ll be in at the Clinical Team Conference in Grapevine, TX in a couple of weeks, so if you’re planning to attend CTC, track me down there.  Alternatively, shoot me an email and we can set up a time to connect on the phone.  I look forward to working with you all!

-Sharon Scribner Pearce, VP Public Policy

What Happened to The Government Shutdown?

In the Fall of 2013, the Federal Government shut down. Remember that? Most folks probably have a hazy recollection of it, but the details are starting to get fuzzy. Didn’t that mean people couldn’t visit national parks? Was it related to Obamacare or something?

For us ‘Politicos’ here in DC, it was riveting stuff. A real-live beltway brawl playing out in our own backyard. For the rest of the country, it was viewed much more as an annoyance than anything else- can’t Congress do its job?

National_Mall_During_Government_Shutdown_2013And so, without a huge amount of disagreement or fuss, when the time came on September 30th to pass legislation that would keep the government open for a few more months, Congress buckled down and got the job done. They didn’t break much new ground- what was passed was called a ‘CR,’ or continuing resolution, which basically agrees to funding the government at the same levels it’s currently being funded at until a specified date. In this case, Congress agreed to continue funding through December 11th. Washington breathed a small sigh of relief… for now. The fight comes back again in December, and the much-feared debt ceiling fight is poised to also play a role at the end of the year.

What does all this have to do with hospice? Directly, not much.

Hospice government expenditures are federally mandated- a shutdown of the government wouldn’t affect hospice claims processing or billing. I wanted to give a recap for a few quick reasons though:

  • While we’re not directly affected, fights like funding the government or the debt ceiling affect us in that they take up the precious time and energy of lawmakers. Every day spent working out a short-term continuing resolution is one more day that lawmakers can’t focus on legislation that we think is critically important, like the Care Planning Act.
  • It hasn’t happened for a while, but the hospice community was directly affected by one of these high-stakes congressional showdowns in the past. Anyone remember Sequestration? That was borne out of the 2011 fiscal cliff fight. So while these shutdown threats don’t affect hospice day-to-day, they can have real (-2% funding in the case of Sequestration) consequences for the hospice community.

What’s next? Well, there’s only 10 legislative days after the Thanksgiving holiday for Congress to wrap this up before the next deadline, and remember they also have to deal with the debt ceiling as well. Word in DC is that leaders in both the Republican and Democratic parties are hoping to pass a 2-year spending bill to deal with this in a more structured fashion instead of kicking the can down the road a few months at a time. Why 2 years? Doing so would take the issue out of the spotlight through the 2016 presidential cycle, which is something both parties want. And as the politicking gets more heated the closer we get to election day 2016, the harder any actual legislating becomes. Will they be able to pass a 2 year package by December 11th? The crystal ball is pretty hazy. Stay tuned, and thanks for taking a little time for some inside baseball here in DC.


Public Support “Overwhelming” for Advanced Care Planning

Kaiser Health Tracking Poll: September 2015


A new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation just released today shows that eight out of ten Americans support the idea of government or private health insurance paying for end-of-life and advanced care planning discussions.From the article by Jordan Rau, “These discussions can include whether people would want to be kept alive by artificial means even if they had no chance of regaining consciousness or autonomy and whether they would want their organs to be donated. These preferences can be incorporated into advance directives, or living wills, which are used if someone can no longer communicate.”

This is great news! It is getting quite a buzz on social media, even making its way to Congress:

I ask all of you blog followers to please Tweet and Facebook about this important poll. We need to get the word out that advanced care planning, and specifically the Care Planning Act, is a bipartisan, popular, necessary, and compassionate cause that benefits all Americans!


Quick Take: Advance Care Planning and a Better EOL

Would you use an app on your phone to log and share your end of life wishes? Such innovations are no longer the wave of the future, but are available to consumers today!

This is just one of the innovative efforts the Third Way has identified in a new brief that make advance directives more accessible to the public. By documenting end of life care wishes in some innovative ways, the Third Way estimates that Medicare could save $15.2 billion over the 2015-2024, and save $1.8 billion for Medicaid programs over 10 years.

Though most older Americans express that they want to die at home, only a quarter actually do. But why? Often, it is because these individuals and their doctors don’t discuss a course of treatment (or lack thereof) if the patient was unable to communicate their wishes. That’s why Gundersen Lutheran Hospital in La Crosse, Wisconsin, developed a community-wide program to promote the use of advance medical directives. Not only is advance care planning discussed at primary care visits, but also within the community via trained “facilitators.” The results are pretty astounding:

In 2010, among adult La Crosse residents who died over a seven-month period, 96% had some form of advance care plan, 99% of those plans were available in patients’ medical records, and treatment was consistent with the advance directives in 99% of the cases.

The ability for physicians to be reimbursed through the physician fee schedule to have advance care planning discussions is a good first step to motivate other not-as-innovative systems to encourage these conversations. And while the Care Planning Act
(S. 1549)
would bring advance care planning to an interdisciplinary team, there are steps you can take now. Share innovations like apps, or the Caring Connections website for state-specific advance directive forms with your friends and family. Work in the healthcare field? Share these resources with your colleagues! The common denominator here is that more knowledge about advance care planning, and easier access to do so, is the key for a better end of life.

Related Resources from the Third Way: