Recap of Congressman Rush Capitol Hill Briefing on the Past, Present, and Future of Health Care in America

On Tuesday, Alliance Executive Director Teresa Lee was invited by Congressman Bobby Rush (D-IL) to speak at a briefing on Capitol Hill entitled, “Health Care from 30,000 feet – Past, Present and Future from an Industry Perspective.” The panel, which also featured Dr. Deirdre Walton of the National Black Nurses Association, Ms. Alethia Jackson of Walgreens Co., and Mr. Srinu Sonti of Senator Richard Durbin’s (D-IL) office, was moderated by Dr. Michelle Gourdine, a health policy expert and the CEO of Michelle Gourdine & Associates who holds appointments at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and University of Maryland School of Medicine.

In her remarks, Ms. Lee provided an overview of home health’s value proposition, noting that skilled home health generally serves a poorer, sicker, and more racially and ethnically diverse set of patients than other post-acute care settings. Given that most seniors prefer to age in place, skilled home health is the most cost-effective option when clinically appropriate. However, siloed payment systems threaten the effectiveness of the system by promoting fragmented care, which rewards volume over value. Coupled with issues pertaining to the current home health benefit and the lack of infrastructure necessary for an aging population, changes need to be made to support health care delivery going forward. However, the system is seeing positive results with innovative models, projects, and demonstrations that are making good use of home health and home-based care, including the Independence at Home (IAH) demonstration and the Veterans Affairs Home Based Primary Care (HBPC) program; Medicare’s Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), as well accountable care organizations (ACOs), bundled payment arrangements, and community-based care transitions programs. The success of these models is promising and serves as a harbinger of the future.

Discussion on the panel also centered on how to make health care more accessible for the total population in the future. A few key takeaways from the event include:

  1. Reform the patchwork health care system: One way to do this is through improved health information technology and health information exchange. Mr. Sonti spoke of a need for greater communication across all settings of care in order to improve coordination and delivery of care.
  2. Move toward community-based care, with the home as a locus of care: Jackson noted that Walgreens is in the midst of working on greater use of its retail clinics and in-home infusion services to provide community-based care.
  3. Push toward optimization of the workforce: Walton emphasized a need to allow nurse practitioners to practice up to their certification levels, as well as for better coordination and communication with physicians in keeping care out of the acute setting.
  4. Considerations relating to scaling new models: Lee and Mr. Sonti noted that dissemination of health care delivery system reforms on a large scale would need to bear in mind considerations relating to risk. Policy-makers will need to balance the interest in reform with considerations involving beneficiary access to care.

The topics covered during the briefing are critical to the advancement of health care delivery in the future and we invite everyone to continue the dialogue through the Alliance’s Future of Home Health Project. You can reach us via email at, follow us on Twitter at #FutureofHH, or join us for our ‘Future of Home Health Symposium: Tackling Critical Issues for the Future of Home and Community Based Care’ next month here in Washington, DC. More information on the Symposium can be found here.