Home Health Can Save Medicare If We Demand a Seat at the Table

Home Health Can Save Medicare If We Demand a Seat at the Table

Medicare's "Independence At Home" demonstration is studying whether providing chronically ill patients with in-home visits by primary-care providers results in both enhanced care delivery and cost savings. I applaud this Obamacare gem.

I also believe the program should stretch further and partner with home health agencies to provide a full health-care package to the beneficiaries served, regardless of homebound status.

I can dream, can't I?

This blog by Medicare beneficiary Arnold Goldberger illustrates how he and his wife have benefited from home visits by nurse practitioners and physicians as part of this program created by the Affordable Care Act. CMS' fact sheet says the "Independence At Home" demonstration focuses "on timely and appropriate care" designed to "improve overall quality of care and quality of life" for patients, "while lowering health care costs by forestalling the need for care in institutional settings."

The 5-year demonstration, that ends 30 Sept. 2017, tracks both quality measures and costs, and rewards financially the providers providing high-quality care while reducing costs for Medicare. It's currently available only through participating physician practices (13) and one consortium.

The  CMS Innovation Center's web page describes the  "Independence At Home" demonstration as "providing chronically ill patients with a complete range of primary care services " at home. "Medical practices led by physicians or nurse practitioners provide primary care home visits tailored to the needs of beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions and functional limitations," as well as testing "whether home-based care can reduce the need for hospitalization, improve patient and caregiver satisfaction, and lead to better health and lower costs to Medicare."

I've advocated for a LONG TIME that home health should have its own medical directors who oversee the plan-of-care for home health patients, and who actually have motivation to understand home health regulatory requirements. If the Medicare demonstration featured in the blog expands to include home health providers, the world will be a better place for Medicare beneficiaries.


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