CMS Announces Independence At Home Demonstration Program

CMS continues to roll out initiatives from the Affordable Care Act in an attempt to test new ways to improve health care and lower cost.

The latest in this line of programs and funding opportunities is the Independence At Home Demonstration (Section 3024 of the ACA), which aims to test a service delivery model that utilizes physician and nurse practitioner-directed primary care teams to provide services to certain Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic illnesses in their homes.

According to the Independence At Home (IAH) Program Solicitation, in order to be involved in the Demonstration, “practices must be individual physicians or nurse practitioners or interdisciplinary teams composed of various members such as physicians, nurse practitioners, physician assistants, pharmacists, social workers, and other supporting staff.” The program itself is designed to provide comprehensive, coordinated, continuous and accessible care to high-need patients and to coordinate health care across all treatment settings.

Even though primary care is the lead in the IAH demo, the focus is on delivering care to patients in their homes and getting beneficiaries what they need to remain independent. In other words, the program could actually be of significant benefit to the home care industry as a whole because primary care practitioners will be making check-ups in the home and witnessing how patients function in their day-to-day environment. Based on those visits, the practices will be identifying services – like home care and other community based services – that help keep people out of costlier settings and the ER.

Practices are required to use electronic health systems and remote patient monitoring, both of which are used by many home health agencies. Also, practices must be available 24 hours per day, seven days per week to carry out plans of care. Applicable beneficiaries must have at least two chronic illnesses, must need human assistance with two or more Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s), have had a non-elective hospital admission within the last 12 months and have used acute or sub-acute rehabilitation services within the last 12 months.

HCA encourages agencies to see the other guidelines, which are laid out in the IAH Solicitation and a summary is provided in a PowerPoint provided on the IAH program webpage.

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