Senate Bill Allows for Expansion of Hospice Respite Care During Public Health Emergency

Categories: Policy.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) introduced the COVID-19 Hospice Respite Care Relief Act of 2020 (S. 4423). This bill would give the Secretary of Health and Human Services the flexibility to allow respite care to be provided outside of inpatient settings, potentially including in the home, and to allow hospice patients to receive up to 15 days of respite care. Current law only allows for five consecutive days of respite care. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization worked with other national hospice stakeholders to advance this legislation.

Hospice providers are working to adapt their care to the conditions of the COVID-19 crisis. In some circumstances, patients are being kept in the hospital or hospice inpatient facility longer due to an inability to safely discharge or transfer patients. Reasons for this could be, but are not limited to, a caregiver having COVID-19, being fearful of exposure to COVID-19 from the patient, or not having a nursing home bed to which to discharge a patient.  This legislation gives both patients and providers the flexibility they need to provide care and keep patients safe.

“NHPCO is grateful to Senator Brown and Senator Capito for their leadership during the coronavirus pandemic and for introducing the COVID-19 Hospice Respite Care Relief Act of 2020. The bill would allow hospice patients to receive up to 15 days of respite care, ensuring the care they need if their caregiver is unavailable due to COVID-19 infection or self-isolation from exposure. We are thankful for the continued support from Congress that has enabled hospices to provide high quality care to patients and families despite unprecedented challenges,” said NHPCO President and CEO Edo Banach.

If this bill becomes law, provisions outlined in the bill may be implemented by interim final rule, program instruction, or otherwise.

NHPCO and the Hospice Action Network are advocating for this policy to be included in any COVID-19 relief legislation and looks forward to continued collaboration with Congress and the Administration to address the evolving needs of a country facing a national emergency.

Download a fact-sheet on the bill. Read the press release issued by Senator Brown’s office.

As the attention of the world remains focused on COVID-19, NHPCO offers relevant and timely resources for community-based hospice providers serving patients and families where they live at


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