Congress Passes Legislation Adding Flexibility to the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly
October 23, 2015 10:04 AM
On Wednesday, October 21, the U.S. House of Representatives passed by voice vote legislation to add increased flexibility to the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE). The Senate unanimously passed the legislation in August. PACE is a joint Medicare and Medicaid program that coordinates care of seniors with chronic conditions, so that they can remain in their communities. Currently, to be eligible for the PACE program, an individual must be at least 55 years of age and eligible for nursing home care. The PACE Innovation Act (S. 1362 / H.R. 3243) would provide increased flexibility to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to expand the PACE program to include other populations, such as younger individuals with disabilities.
The Senate sponsors of the legislation praised the measure because they said it will allow more individuals to remain in their homes. Senator Tom Carper (D-DE), the lead sponsor of the Senate legislation, said “broadening the reach of programs like PACE will help us continue to provide seniors with excellent health care, while also reducing costs.” He added, “Providing PACE programs with the room they need to grow and innovate will give more seniors the chance to remain in their homes, while receiving excellent health care and social services.” Senator Pat Toomey (R-PA), the lead Republican cosponsor of the bill in Senate, said in Pennsylvania the PACE program has been “extremely successful in helping seniors to remain in their own homes rather than having to go into a costly nursing home or institutional setting.”
The House sponsors praised the legislation along similar lines. Congressman Chris Smith (R-NJ) said the bill will allow PACE organizations “to bring the benefits of coordinated medical and long term services to more seniors who seek to live independently in the setting of their choosing.” Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), the lead Democratic sponsor of the House bill, said that “PACE is centered on the belief that it is better for individuals and their families to receive both medical care and long-term social services and supports in the home and community whenever possible.”
The legislation needs to be signed by President Barack Obama in order to become law. President Obama has expressed support for expanding the PACE program. The President’s Budget for Fiscal Year 2016 proposed to create a pilot demonstration in selected states to expand PACE eligibility to qualifying individuals between 21 years and 55 years of age (see previous NAHC Report article here).
The National Association of Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) supports the expansion of PACE to include other populations, such as younger individuals with disabilities, as a program that prioritizes home and community-based services.