CMS says home-based primary care pilot still reaps savings

A pilot project conducted by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services focused on providing home-based primary care services to patients with chronic conditions has demonstrated significant savings during its second year, the agency said this week.

The independence at home demonstration project saved the Medicare program at least $10 million during the 2015 fiscal year, an average of about $1,010 per beneficiary, CMS reported. The patients in the pilot project also received a higher quality of care, and fewer of them visit the emergency room when their conditions flare up.

The notion of house calls by healthcare providers as a way of saving money has been floated by policymakers for the past several years.

Among the services delivered by the providers in the pilot program include follow-up within 48 hours of hospital admission or discharge; and reconciliation of medications within 48 hours of discharge.

“The Independence at Home Demonstration is a patient-centered model that supports providers in caring for chronically ill patients in their own homes,” said Patrick Conway, M.D., CMS' acting chief medical officer, in a statement. “These results continue to support what most patients already want--the ability to have high-quality care in the home setting.”

However, the fiscal performance was not as impressive as during the first year of the project, when it saved Medicare $25 million, or $3,070 per beneficiary. CMS did not say whether the latest results were beyond the baseline of last year's performance.

As a result of the 2015 outcomes, the 15 medical practices involved with the pilot project will share incentive payments totaling $5.7 million, CMS said.

- read the CMS statement