In-home senior care program saved Medicare $25M

A program that uses house calls to treat seniors with multiple chronic conditions saved Medicare $25 million in its first year, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced.

The three-year program, called the Independence at Home Demonstration, requires participating primary care practices to "make in-home visits tailored to an individual patient's needs and coordinate their care," according to a CMS fact sheet.

"This is a great common sense way for Medicare beneficiaries to get better quality care with smarter spending from Medicare," CMS Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt said in the announcement. 

In its first year, the program involved 17 primary care practices and more than 8,400 Medicare beneficiaries. The care-quality improvements were promising: Four of the practices met all six quality measures and all 17 improved care quality in at least three.

The program saved Medicare an average of $3,070 per participating beneficiary for a total savings of $25 million. Nine of the participating practices are set to receive a total of $11.7 million in incentive payments because they met their individual cost-saving benchmark, the announcement states. The Visiting Physicians Association of Flint, Michigan, will receive the biggest payout, as it is due to receive $2,915,062, according to the first-year results.

House calls, once an old-fashioned concept, have enjoyed a renaissance thanks to the healthcare industry's push toward value-based care models. Some programs use emergency responders to conduct home visits and thus cut down on hospital readmissions and ED use, and Humana has also made a push to encourage in-home treatment for chronically ill seniors. Yet their past use as part of the Medicare Advantage program has drawn scrutiny because of the profits they can drive.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- here's the program fact sheet
- check out the first-year results

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