September Sausage Making

“Those that respect the law and love sausage should watch neither being made.” –Mark Twain.

While Mr. Twain certainly did have a gift for turning a clever phrase, we here at the Hospice Action Network believe that our Hospice Advocates should be as informed as possible about how we represent them in Washington. It dawned on Tony and I that it may seem like things are quiet here at the Hospice Action Network offices. I know that many of you saw Don’s recent letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction (the Super Committee), but you may wonder what that means for HAN staff and what exactly we’re up to as Congress returns to DC this fall.

As a grassroots community, we find of ourselves in one of those DE-creasingly rare times of behind-the scenes activism. This means that things aren’t necessarily “happening” on the more public stages of DC. But, it is a good opportunity for me to let you know the types of things that do happen during these periods, which don’t necessarily make it into the media or even our typical Action Alerts. Here is what we have going on this month on your behalf:

  • HAN staff recently met with our Senate hospice champions to map out strategy and positioning options for S. 722 (The HELP Hospice Act), along with fine-tuning some messaging around the ongoing debt negotiations and the challenges facing the hospice community. This is one of a series of Congressional meetings we have scheduled this month (and every month) and part of our constant dialogue with Congress. These meetings may be routine for us, but they are critically important to maintaining the presence of a strong, unified hospice presence on Capitol Hill.
  • Last week, NHPCO HAN CEO Don Schumacher and other HAN senior staff engaged in a friendly and substantive HAN-facilitated meeting with senior leadership at CMS covering the current state of hospice in America and the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead for the community.
  • In an effort to ensure that we are marshalling all of NHPCO’s resources and that all key staff are “smart” on these crazy budget negotiations, HAN staff facilitated an internal staff briefing with a former Staff Director of the Senate Budget Committee.
  • HAN staff also facilitated an informational meeting with White House staff for FHSSA (NHPCO’s philanthropic arm focusing on hospice in Africa), ensuring that the Obama Administration is aware of the hospice community’s commitment to serve those in need well beyond our borders.
  • Additionally, this week, staff from HAN and the NHPCO regulatory team will be meeting with officials at HHS to discuss the essential health benefits package, and why hospice is a natural fit for coverage.
  • Later in the month, HAN is hosting a Congressional briefing on hospice in the nursing home, featuring the latest research by Dr. Joan Teno and the personal perspective of the value of hospice in this setting by a hospice patient family member and a hospice provider.
  • HAN staff continue our outreach to MedPAC commissioners, as well as their professional staff to better set the stage for their ongoing deliberations on hospice issues.
  • Finally, HAN will be represented in a meeting we have set up between Don Schumacher and one of the Super Committee members.

We just wanted to let you know that we have your back, and that things are definitely not so quiet around here. What can you be doing? As always, we encourage you to continue to nurture your existing relationships with elected officials during this time, and when (and, actually, if) the time is right for large scale, activism – you’ll hear from us. All the resources you need are on the HAN Web site, or email us at info@nhpcohan.org .