Congressmen Push CMS to Raise Priority for Independence at Home Program

From: HomeCare Magazine

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rep. Edward Markey, D-Mass., have sent a letter to Marilyn Tavenner, acting director of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, asking that the Independence at Home program be given higher priority.

The program is included in health care reform and is designed to deliver home-based care to Medicare patients with chronic conditions. It was supposed to start as a demonstration project for up to 10,000 beneficiaries on Jan. 1, 2012.

“Yet with three weeks remaining in the year, CMS still has not released guidelines for providers that wish to apply for participation,’’ the Dec. 7 letter said.

The congressmen said the Independence at Home Program could lower costs among the most ill and expensive Medicare patients, and noted that between 5 and 8 percent of Medicare’s sickest beneficiaries account for about 50 percent of all Medicare health costs.

The letter said that similar models for at-home care have lowered health care costs by 24 to 60 percent. The federal Department of Veterans Affairs has operated a program to provide home health care for decades, and reduced hospital stays by 62 percent and nursing home days by 88 percent.

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