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30Dec 2014

Twenty-eight states, three territories and the District of Columbia will be the beneficiaries to over $665 million in Affordable Care Act funding to design and test health care payment and service delivery models that strive to both improve health care quality and lower costs, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Sylvia M. Burwell announced Tuesday.

“We are committed to partnering with states to advance the goals we all share: better care, smarter spending, and, ultimately, healthier people,” said Secretary Burwell. “These funds will support states in integrating and coordinating the many elements of health care—including Medicaid, Medicare, public health, and private health care delivery systems—to the benefit of patients, businesses, and taxpayers alike.”

The State Innovation Models initiative supports states in planning or implementing a customized, fully developed proposal capable of improving care statewide.

Example initiatives in the past have included focusing on improving primary care through patient-centered medical homes, building upon current Accountable Care Organization models, as well as integrating primary care and behavioral health sciences.

Other initiatives have included providing technical assistance and data to health care providers; creating unified quality measure score cards; expanding the adoption of health information technology; strengthening the health care workforce via training and education programs; and fostering partnerships among public and primary health care providers.

This week’s awards include both states that are designing plans and strategies for statewide innovation and states that are taking the next steps from designing to testing and implementing comprehensive statewide health transformation plans.

Over $622 million in State Innovation Model Test Awards will support 11 states—Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island, Tennessee and Washington—in implementing their State Health Care Innovation Plans.

These states join six previous round one Model Test awardees: Arkansas, Main, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon and Vermont.

Nearly $43 million in State Innovation Model Design Awards will support 17 states, three territories and D.C. to create and refine proposals for comprehensive health care transformation.

States will engage a broad group of stakeholders including health care providers and systems, long-term service and support providers, commercial payers, state hospital and medical associations, tribal communities and consumer advocacy organizations.

Transformation efforts supported by this initiative must improve health, care and lower costs for Medicare, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program beneficiaries.

“States are laboratories of innovation and serve as critical partners in transforming health care,” said Patrick Conway, M.D., CMS deputy administrator for innovation and quality and chief medical officer.

“States are large health care purchasers for their employees and residents, have broad regulatory authority over health care providers and payers, have the ability to convene multiple parties to improve statewide health delivery systems, and oversee public health, social, and educational services,” Conway added. “Partnering with states on health innovation has the potential to accelerate and transform health innovation in all of these areas.”

Together with awards released in 2013, more than half of states (34 states and three territories along with the District of Columbia), representing nearly two-thirds of the population are participating in efforts to support comprehensive state-based innovation in health system transformation aimed at finding new and innovative ways to improve quality and lower costs, HHS said.

Written by Jason Oliva

30Aug 2014

Philips Smartphone App Targets Aging in Place Seniors

A new smartphone app from Royal Philips (NYSE: PHG) allows seniors who are living independently at home to receive the benefits and services of a remote medical alert system, without the necessity of having to wear a device.

Offering a direct connection to Philips’ U.S.-based call center, the mobile Lifeline response app allows smartphone-enabled seniors and their families to speak directly to trained personnel, even if it is for non-emergencies.

The app uses functionalities built into the smartphone devices that can help locate users in efforts to better ensure that help is directed to the right location, wether someone is using it to call a loved one or even the helping hands of a nearby neighbor.

Designed for independent seniors, the Philips Lifeline app also allows individuals to receive the benefits of the call center without having to wear a medical alert device—a critical component to the technology, especially as 96% of seniors said they want to be as independent as possible as they get older, according to a survey by Philips and the Global Social Enterprise Initiative at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

“Today’s seniors are active and they deserve a mobile solution that affords them the freedom to go and do as they please while being safe,” said Philips Lifeline General Manager Kimberly O’Loughlin in a written statement. “We’re excited to offer seniors an app that allows them to take our trusted service with them and experience life to the fullest, without the worry of getting help should they need it.”

The app, which is free to download, is currently available in the U.S. via the Apple Store and Android Market, and joins other technologies Philips has dedicated to the senior care space, including its Community WIthout Walls, CarePartners Mobile, the HomeSafe Wireless System and the AutoAlert fall detection products.

If users choose, they may elect to pay month-to-month for the service provided through Philips Lifeline.

Written by Jason Oliva

06Jun 2014

President Obama’s mendacious political promise, “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it,” continues to cast a long and disturbing shadow of doubt and confusion over millions of Americans who have lost coverage as a result of Obamacare. As 2014 unfolds, the most vulnerable senior citizens — those who receive home health care services — are about to learn they are out of luck. Obamacare opens a trap door under them, leaving this elderly population in freefall — with many citizens losing access to home health care.

Add another compelling reason to reverse Obamacare. Whether by accident or intention, the “Affordable Care Act” empirically strips America’s oldest and poorest cohort, all part of the World War II generation, of this basic coverage. Here is how.

On Jan. 1, Medicare’s home health care services, formerly serving 3.5 million elderly beneficiaries across the country, were cut under Obamacare. The cut deleted exactly 14 percent, or an estimated $22 billion, from these lowest-income Americans over four years. News of the forthcoming cut only trickled out the Friday before Thanksgiving, yet another stunning attempt by the Obama White House to reduce Medicare benefits without attracting notice.

Guess what? We noticed. This cut does irreparable damage to recipients of Medicare’s home health care services, those who are aged, homebound and sicker than the average Medicare population. Indeed, nearly two-thirds of Medicare home health care users live at or below the federal poverty level, meaning they are the most economically compromised of America’s precious senior citizens.

This cut is an indictment of White House policies. Home health care agencies have always provided services to homebound Medicare beneficiaries. No hoopla, but when these Americans needed skilled care, they got it. In contrast to expensive hospital care, critical health care services got into millions of American homes via clinicians. Home health care was — and still is — vital. It is also now effectively gone for these Americans.

How did home health care save money for taxpayers? Using 2009 as a reference year, Medicare’s average Part A and Part B payment for a home health care visit was $145, compared to $373 per day in a skilled nursing facility or a whopping $1,805 per day in a hospital. In addition, according to one leading expert, skilled home health care services saved the Medicare program $2.8 billion during the most recent three-year period. Approximately $670 million of that savings is attributable to 20,000 fewer hospital readmissions.

Given these facts, one would conclude that the value of home health care in driving down Medicare costs should be obvious, if this — and not a single-payer system — were the real goal of Obamacare. How did we lose sight of common sense? Just keep patients in a familiar surrounding — their homes, not in an expensive hospital — keep sound disease management programs that deliver better and more cost-effective outcomes, and continue to coordinate care for patients. That was working. Now we have the reverse — markedly higher medical and insurance costs, with absolutely no institutional connection, support or continuing benefits for these especially needy Americans, the ones who depended — with their families — on critical home health care benefits. The president and his Democratic surrogates in the House and Senate have done it again: They have wiped out another critical, working system with this Obamacare monstrosity.

What else will this home health care cut achieve? It will hit the small businesses that provide home health care nationwide, and is already doing so. More than 90 percent of those providing home health care are small businesses. According to the U.S. Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 40 percent of these companies will be operating “at a loss” — that is, they will likely fold or end up in bankruptcy — by 2017 as a result of the cut. What does that mean? It means nearly 5,000 more Medicare home health care providers may go out of business, and nearly 500,000 more jobs within this flogged industry may be wiped out to fund Obamacare. Those who care about such things should put that into their future unemployment calculations — and then thank Mr. Obama and his congressional friends, who all got a waiver and probably do not worry about home health care anyway.

Attacking our weakest senior citizens is no way to run a country. It is, in a word, reprehensible. This abomination devastates another existing and essential Medicare promise, while throwing one more gut-wrenching punch at this job sector. Does the truth no longer matter? Do these lives no longer matter? Do these businesses and jobs no longer matter? When will Mr. Obama and his allies in Congress let up and allow Americans to look after themselves again, as we used to quite well?

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23Aug 2011

Researchers Commit $30 Million to Fall Prevention Study

Fall-related injuries continue to plague the aging population, but a new five-year, $30 million study is in the works to provide seniors with plans to help prevent one of the most common problems affecting them.

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) will conduct a nationwide study of the “effectiveness of a multi-pronged strategy that includes deploying nurses or nurse practitioners trained as ‘falls care managers.’”

Roughly one in every three adults over age 65 suffer moderate to severe injuries from falls, which can lead to declines in health and loss of independence, the release states.

“One of the keys to innovative scientific research is the ability to collaborate in creative and dynamic ways,” NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D., stated in the release. “This unique collaboration between NIH and PCORI builds on the strengths of our respective organizations. We hope this partnership will translate into real strides in preventing falls and their resulting injuries in older people.”

Some of the country’s leading geriatric experts will spearhead the study in collaboration with seniors and family caregivers. Falls care managers will develop and deliver evidence-based prevention plans individually tailored to each of the 6,000 adults in the trial, monitoring the patients’ outcomes and coordinating with their primary care providers. The rate of fall-related injuries among the study’s participants will then be compared to the injury rate among similar patients who receive only risk assessments and educational material from physicians.

The patient-centered approach aims to reduce the rates of fall-related injuries among non-institutionalized seniors.

“We cannot eliminate falls altogether, but we know that many fall-related injuries are preventable through good, evidence-based interventions,” PCORI Executive Director Joe Selby, M.D., M.P.H., stated in the release. “What’s lacking is evidence on the optimal combination of interventions to meet patients’ individual needs and circumstances and how best to deliver tailored plans.

Written by Emily Study

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