Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Independence at Home Act

Our hospice medical director Dr. Tom Cornwell happens to be a home care physician and let us know about an important piece of legislation that has been reintroduced in the House and the Senate. The Independence at Home Act is being heralded as "the most significant Medicare reform since 1965." House calls provide tremendous value to homebound patients and their caregivers, improving their quality of life while also reducing health care costs by decreasing hospitalizations and nursing home placements. Certainly Dr. Cornwell's practice is booming- I'm surprised he has time for our weekly ICC discussions, let alone time for his family. In addition to Dr. C.'s many involvements, he has also advocated for more house call programs and this legislation will certainly help.

What is the Independence at Home Act, you ask? Here's the breakdown:
-A chronic care coordination benefit for the 20% highest cost Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic illnesses that account for 2/3s of Medicare spending.
-An interdisciplinary IAH house call program would be required to:
1) Save Medicare a minimum of 5% per year.
2) Have outcomes appropriate for the beneficiary's condition.
3) Meet patient and caregiver satisfaction goals.
-Savings beyond the initial 5% would be split 80/20 between the IHA house call program and Medicare, thus stimulating the creation of house call programs and helping current house call programs expand and give even more advanced care.

Our patients that utilize HomeCare Physicians absolutely rave about the service they receive. They're getting quality medical care without the ordeal of getting to the MD's office. Priceless! And yet, when it comes to healthcare, everything is about the bottom line. (Even nonprofits- such a dirty secret, no?) If IHA is passed this Friday, it looks like everyone will benefit.

If you want to support the Independence at Home Act, please contact your Congress and Senate representatives by this Friday May 29 and ask them to co-sponsor the bill. Click here to locate your officials. Please pass the word along to anyone that might be interested in furthering this cause!

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