Medicare Returning to an Old-Fashioned Idea–House Calls
Looking for ways to save money and improve care, Medicare officials are returning to an old-fashioned idea: house calls. The experiment, called Independence at Home, is more than a nostalgic throwback to the way medicine was practiced decades ago when the doctor arrived at the patient’s door carrying a big black bag. Done right and paid right, house calls could prove to be a better way of treating very sick, elderly patients while they can still live at home. “House calls go back to the origins of medicine, but in many ways I think this is the next generation,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, who heads Medicare’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, which oversees Independence at Home.
Under the law creating the program, practices could join only if they make house calls to at least 200 patients with traditional Medicare who have been hospitalized and received rehab or other home health care within the past year. These patients also must have trouble with at least two activities of daily living, such as dressing or eating. The health care providers must be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. They make visits at least once a month to catch any new problems early, and more often if patients are sick or there’s an emergency.
Ask your Medicare provider if they are part of the Independence at Home program. Congress has authorized the Independence at Home program through October 2017, but some lawmakers hope there is enough support to extend it nationwide.
Ms. MacDonald’s practice is limited to estate planning, probate and trust administration. Ms. MacDonald maintains her practice in the Santa Clarita Valley at 25115 Avenue Stanford, Suite A-209 in Valencia, California. She can be reached at 661-294-6464.
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