Seniors get better care at lower cost in Medicare's house calls pilot

A government demonstration project has reduced the cost of caring for seniors by 17 percent and also cut emergency department visits and hospital readmissions, according to Kaiser Health News.

Independence at Home, a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) pilot project has saved the Medicare program $25 million in its first year. Participating practices send doctors into elderly patients' homes to keep them healthy. Nine practices around the country earned bonuses of nearly $12 million for participating.

In the pilot program's first year, Portland, Oregon's Housecall Providers went from operating at a loss to saving Medicare nearly $13,600 for each patient, and it netted $1.2 million in shared savings. Across the country in the District of Columbia, MedStar's house calls program has reduced the cost of care by $12,000 for each patient, reports KHN.

In order to take part in the program, practices must provide patients with 24/7 access to healthcare providers. Participating practices must provide house calls to a minimum of 200 traditional Medicare patients who need help with daily tasks such as dressing and eating. In addition, the Medicare patients involved in the program must have been hospitalized and have received either home health or rehab services within the last 12 months, according to the article.

Fourteen physician practices dotted around the country continue to participate in the pilot program, and CMS is scheduled to announce the second round of payments in June, reports KHN.

To learn more:
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