Bill extends for two years an in-home, primary care test program for chronically ill seniors being piloted in Massachusetts
Washington (April 23, 2015) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) today applauded the Senate for giving final approval to The Medicare Independence at Home  Medical Practice Demonstration Improvement Act of 2015, which makes it possible to continue testing new approaches for treating chronically-ill Medicare beneficiaries in their homes. The bill now heads over to House of Representatives for its consideration. 
“The Independence at Home program is moving quality health care from emergency rooms to living rooms for our most vulnerable seniors,” said Senator Markey. “This pilot program extension will allow teams of doctors and nurses to continue to care for severely ill Medicare patients in the home, bringing the house calls of yesteryear into the 21st century. This will help save money and increase the peace of mind of patients in their twilight years.  As a part of this innovative demonstration to fix the fragmented way chronically ill seniors receive care today, Boston Medical Center is working to improve the health outcomes of hundreds of Massachusetts seniors, and this extension will help them continue its important work. I will continue to work with my colleagues and CMS to make the Independence at Home program permanently accessible to all Medicare beneficiaries and their family caregivers in the future.”
Joining Senator Markey on the legislation, S. 971, were cosponsors Senators Ron Wyden, Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.). Among other benefits, the bill extends for two years a novel and far-reaching demonstration program that encourages health care providers to coordinate care as well as increasing the use of in-home diagnostic tests and monitoring.
Senator Markey was the House author of the Independence at Home (IAH) approach. IAH uses primary care teams providing care in the home to improve health outcomes and reduce expenditures for Medicare beneficiaries living with multiple chronic conditions. While providing high quality, consistent care is the top priority, health care providers whose expenditures are less than a target amount are eligible for bonus payments as long as they meet quality of care standards.
Approximately four million seniors currently living with advanced chronic illnesses - such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease - are too ill or disabled to visit their physician easily when they need care. These seniors, representing ten percent of Medicare, account for two-thirds of Medicare’s expenditures.
The bill extends for two additional years programs already underway in 14 states: Oregon, Ohio, Massachusetts, Delaware, New York, North Carolina, Kentucky, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Washington, D.C.