Nurse in blue scrubs checks older woman using stethoscope

Home care and senior service organizations cheered the introduction of a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives Friday that expands access to in-home care. A bipartisan team of lawmakers introduced the Choose Home Care Act of 2021, which lets Medicare-eligible patients receive extended care service as an add-on to the existing Medicare home health benefit for 30 days after a hospital discharge.

“Choose Home has received an outpouring of support from America’s home health community as well as consumer and patient advocates alike, which we believe demonstrates how important it is to increase access to safe, cost-effective care at home for Medicare beneficiaries after hospitalization,” William Dombi, National Association for Home Care & Hospice President, said in a press release.

Nonprofit senior services advocate LeadingAge credited the legislation for giving seniors choice in healthcare.

“Older Americans are not a monolithic group. They have unique desires, challenges and life circumstances–and they should have access to a range of affordable care and services to meet their needs,” LeadingAge said in a press release.

Choose Home’s introduction in the House comes three months after it was introduced in the Senate. It’s estimated the measure could save Medicare up to $247 million annually by offering seniors skilled nursing services in their homes, rather than in nursing homes or other institutional settings.

But the legislation has drawn sharp criticism from the nursing home and assisted living providers who say it will supplant existing benefits, create duplicative services, confuse beneficiaries and increase out-of-pocket costs. 

The Partnership for Quality Home Healthcare expressed optimism Choose Home path in both houses of Congress.

 “We are hopeful we will see the Choose Home Care Act enacted this year in order to help us better protect our nation’s vulnerable aging and sick populations while also modernizing the Medicare Home Health Benefit,” PQHH Executive Director Joanne Cunningham said.

This article originally appeared on McKnights Home Care