New Bill to Expand Home Health Services
New legislation (S 3613, HR 7114) introduced Sept. 26 by Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) addresses the rising toll of health care costs and the nation’s expanding elderly population. People with chronic conditions account for 76 percent of all hospital admissions, 88 percent of all prescriptions filled, and 72 percent of physician visits, according to the proposed legislation.
Through a three-year demonstration, the Independence at Home Act of 2008 seeks to provide Medicare beneficiaries suffering from multiple chronic conditions access to more affordable at-home services under a plan of care developed by a physician or nurse practitioner.
If passed as is, the demonstration would be conducted in 13 high-cost states, 13 regionally representative states, plus the District of Columbia. During the demonstration, an independent contractor would report on quality improvement measures, beneficiary, caregiver and provider satisfaction levels, health outcomes, and cost savings.
Providers would be required to demonstrate a savings of at least 5 percent annually, compared to the cost of serving non-participating Medicare beneficiaries for chronic health care. In return, providers would keep 80 percent of the savings as incentive payment.