Senators Introduce Legislation to Make Independence at Home Demonstration Permanent
July 7, 2016 09:37 AM
Four bipartisan U.S. Senators—Senator Edward J. Markey (D-MA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Rob Portman (R-OH)—on July 6 introduced legislation to make the Independence at Home demonstration into a permanent program under Medicare. Independence at Home, which began in 2012 as a three-year demonstration, focuses on certain high risk patients with chronic illnesses and provides incentives for improved quality outcomes and reduced expenditures. The model uses home-based primary care teams directed by physicians and nurse practitioners. Last year, President Obama signed into law legislation that extended the demonstration for another two years (see previous NAHC Report article here).
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced in June 2015 that Independence at Home had resulted in $25 million in Medicare savings during its first year. The model also resulted in reduced hospital readmissions and improved quality outcomes (see previous NAHC Report article here). At the time, CMS Acting Administrator Andrew M. Slavitt said those results supported the argument “that chronically ill patients can be better taken care of in their own homes,” which he said “most Americans already want.”
The Senators introducing the most recent legislation praised Independence at Home for providing patients with more affordable care in their own homes where they prefer to be. According to a press release by the Senators, similar legislation is being developed for introduction in the U.S. House of Representatives.
“It’s time to turn the successful experiment that is Independence at Home into a nationwide practice,” said Senator Markey. “We can design Medicare so that it works smarter, not harder for its beneficiaries. Independence at Home allows teams of doctors and nurses to continue to care for severely ill Medicare patients in the home, bringing the house calls of yesteryear into the 21st century. I thank Senator Cornyn for his partnership on this legislation to ensure that this innovative program is permanently accessible to all Medicare beneficiaries and their family caregivers in the future.”
“This bill ensures patients can have access to quality health care at home and their families will have a greater sense of security for their loved ones, all while lowering costs,” said Senator Cornyn. “I appreciate Sen. Markey’s partnership and look forward to continuing our work on this important legislation.”
“In Colorado, we’ve demonstrated how a strong coordinated care network can lead to better results at a lower cost to patients, hospitals, and our health care system,” said Senator Bennet. “The expansion of the Independence at Home model builds on these efforts by allowing seniors in Colorado with chronic conditions to get the care they need while staying out of the hospital.”
“I have seen the benefits the Independence at Home program has provided for seniors in Northeast Ohio during the demonstration program—it has reduced hospital readmissions, prevented costly hospital and nursing home admissions, and most importantly kept patients healthy and in their preferred care setting,” said Senator Portman.“I’m excited to join my colleagues to introduce legislation today to make the IAH program permanent and accessible to Medicare beneficiaries across all of Ohio and the nation.”
The National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) supports Independence at Home. NAHC also advocates for an expanded focus on chronic care management with a broader population than covered under Independence at Home. Regarding the legislation to extend the demonstration last year, NAHC President Val J. Halamandaris called it “a good step in what needs to be an increased focus on home and community-based care.”
For more information about Independence at Home on the CMS website, click here.