HHS tests at-home and community care

Supporting at-home and community-based care, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services finalized the rule for a new Medicaid state plan option called Community First Choice and announced the participants for the Independence at Home Demonstration.

Both programs encourage patient care outside of the walls of hospitals and nursing homes.

Under the final rule, the state plan will provide home and community-based attendant services. States participating in the Community First Choice Option will get a 6 percent increase in federal matching Medicaid funds to support the beneficiaries.

"We anticipate this provision will likely increase state and local accessibility to services that augment the quality of life for individuals through a person-centered plan of service and various quality assurances, all at a potentially lower per-capita cost relative to institutional care settings," the final rule states. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services anticipates the federal costs will be $820 million, and the state costs will be $480 million in fiscal year 2012.

Under the Independence at Home Demonstration, 16 organizations will test whether delivering primary care services in the home can improve the quality of care and reduce costs for chronically ill patients. Home-based primary care providers can spend more time with patients, perform assessments in patients' homes and assume greater accountability, according to CMS. On the list of participants in the demonstration project are Boston Medical Center, Cleveland Clinic Home Care Services' Medical Care at Home Program and North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health Care's Physician House Calls Program.

"Our goal is to provide person-centered support to every Medicare and Medicaid beneficiary, regardless of their physical ability or chronic health conditions," Acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner said. "These services and programs will help keep these individuals' health stable and keep them home where they want to be, while giving us even more tools to achieve better care for the patient, better health for the population, all at lower costs."

For more information:
- see the announcement
- read the final rule (.pdf)
- check out the fact page on the demonstration project

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