HHS Wants More Medicare Advantage Services
Secretary Azar seems to be pushing for more prevention and better health as HHS wants more Medicare Advantage services. These services are not just more clinical visits or prescriptions or procedures. Secretary Azar wants to keep seniors out of the hospital not just to avoid costs but to “protect their health, too.” More time in a safe home environment is far better than in a clinic. Social determinants play an out-sized role in our health. It is time to put resources to match that value if we truly want Value Based Care.
“These interventions can keep seniors out of the hospital, which we are increasingly realizing is not just a cost saver but actually an important way to protect their health, too,” Azar said. “If seniors do end up going to the hospital, making sure they can get out as soon as possible with the appropriate rehab services is crucial to good outcomes and low cost as well. If a senior can be accommodated at home rather than an inpatient rehab facility or a [skilled nursing facility], they should be.”
As he spoke, Azar also teased new focus areas coming from CMS’ Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) for helping vulnerable populations.
“What if we provided more than connections and referrals? What if we provided solutions for the whole person including addressing housing, nutrition and other social needs all together?” Azar said. “What if we gave organizations who work with us more flexibility so they can pay beneficiaries’ rent if they are in unstable housing or make sure that a diabetic has access to and can afford nutritious food? If that sounds like an exciting idea, then stay tuned to what CMMI is up to.”
Azar said the moves are part of a broader push under the Trump administration to better harness the flexibility of existing programs to address social determinants that drive up health costs and hurt patient outcomes.
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