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COVID-19 Hospice Respite Care Relief Act Introduced

Tiffany Karlin

September 22, 2020

Representative Troy Balderson (R-Ohio) and Donna Shalala (D-Fla.) introduced the COVID-19 Hospice Respite Care Relief Act for consideration by the U.S. House of Representatives. This act provides a policy solution aimed at providing more flexibility for hospice respite care during an emergency.  Respite Care is a hospice benefit that allows access to short-term inpatient care to relive caregivers if they are ill, need rest, or just unable to care for the hospice patient.

Under the current law, a patient can only receive up to 5 consecutive days of respite care at a time. The COVID-19 Hospice Respite Care Relief Act of 2020 will give the Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) the authority to waive the 5-day maximum and allow up to 15 consecutive days of respite care.

During the current pandemic, many patients and family members have not wanted to go to respite beds outside their homes for fear of their loved ones contracting COVD-19.  Many providers have been faced with the dilemma of a respite bed shortage.  This bill will also allow the respite benefit to be available outside of an inpatient facility. This will ensure that the respite care can be done in the location that best meets the patient’s needs.

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