« The Dual Agenda: July 23, 2015 Issue

Noteworthy News

CMS Offers States Opportunity to Extend  Dual Eligible Demonstrations for Two Years

CMS has announced that it will offer states participating in the dual eligible demonstration projects the opportunity to extend their demonstrations for an additional two years. The demonstrations were originally scheduled to run for three years, but because evaluation results will not be available until the end of the second year of a given state’s demonstration, CMS has decided to give states the option of extending their participation to provide an adequate timeframe for judging the results. States interested in extending their demonstrations must submit a letter indicating their interest by September 1, 2015.

Senate Unanimously Passes Reauthorization of Older Americans Act

On July, 17 the Senate unanimously passed S.192, The Older Americans Act Reauthorization Act of 2015. The legislation, introduced by Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), includes provisions to support older adults and their family caregivers. Action on the bill – coming during  the fiftieth anniversary month of original passage of the Older Americans Act in 1965 – addresses the severe and growing shortage of eldercare providers with the skills and training to meet the unique health care needs of older adults. A press release from The Eldercare Workforce Alliance, of which Community Catalyst is a member organization, summarizes the important areas the bill addresses. The bill now moves to the House Committee on Education and the Workforce for consideration.

Promising Early Results of Program to Reduce Avoidable Hospitalizations Among Nursing Home Patients

CMS has released an evaluation of its initiative to reduce avoidable hospitalizations of nursing home residents. The initiative focuses on long-stay nursing facility residents who are dually eligible and supports organizations that partner with these facilities to implement evidence-based interventions. The goal of the initiative is to reduce hospital readmission rates by 20 percent. The report found that through 2013, five of the seven funded providers showed some degree of reduction in hospitalization levels. However, because the providers were still phasing in their interventions during the evaluation period, it is too early to draw final conclusions from these initial promising results.

Equal vs. Equitable – Reducing Health Disparities

An article in HealthLeaders Media points out that a key factor in successfully shifting our health care system to a population-based health approach is reducing health disparities. The article delves into the difference between equal care and equitable care. A key semantic distinction made is that treating patients equitably means understanding what patients' needs are, and addressing them, in order to get an outcome that is equal. Changing the mindsets of physicians to understand this concept is central to making progress on reducing health disparities.

Connecting Health Care Providers to Community-Based Organizations

A post in Health Affairs Blog offers specific examples of how health care providers can connect with community-based organizations (CBOs) to improve their patients’ health. As our health care system transforms from paying for volume to paying for value, providers have strong incentives to connect with their patients – particularly their older patients with multiple chronic conditions – through partnering with CBOs. CBOs provide social supports and human services, while focusing on prevention and wellness in ways that emphasize behavior change. By collaborating with CBOs, providers can help individuals manage their chronic diseases and meet their often overlooked social needs. The post succinctly summarizes the various opportunities available to providers interested in enhancing their services by connecting with these critical community resources.

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