Medicare saves $10M in second year of home health demonstration project

Building on the success of its inaugural year, a value-based home health project saved Medicare more than $10 million in its second year by improving in-home care coordination for elderly patients, according to an announcement from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.

Last year, CMS announced its Independence at Home Demonstration had saved $25 million in 2014 by tailoring home care to each beneficiary's needs. Through the demonstration project, CMS rewards providers that reduce beneficiary spending and meet six quality metrics aimed at reducing readmissions, emergency room visits, inpatient hospital stays and medication errors.

According to a CMS fact sheet, 15 providers enrolled in the Independence at Home initiative saved an average of $1,010 per Medicare beneficiary in the project’s second year, triggering $5.7 million in incentive payments for seven providers that fell below 2015 spending targets.

“These results continue to support what most patients already want--the ability to have high quality care in the home setting,” Andy Slavitt, acting administrator for CMS, said in the announcement.

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U.S. Senate candidates split on Obamacare; one would 'rather drink weed killer' than support it

In an early U.S. Senate campaign forum, four Republican contenders blasted Obamacare Wednesday while three Democrats argued the overhaul should be fixed, not dumped.

"Obamacare sucks, it can't be fixed," said state Treasurer John Kennedy, a Republican. "It should be repealed."

Similar criticism of the law -- officially the Affordable Care Act -- was leveled by U.S. Rep. Charles Boustany of Lafayette, U.S. Rep. John Fleming of Minden and former U.S. Rep. Joseph Cao of Harvey, all Republicans.

Democrat Foster Campbell, a member of the Public Service Commission, said the controversial law needs repairs, not to be abolished.

"There are lots of things that need to be fixed," he said.

He added, "There are some good things about Obamacare -- 250,000 people in Louisiana have health care," Campbell said, a reference to the Medicaid expansion launched in Louisiana this year that was part of the measure.

"I don't apologize for that," he said.

Democrats Caroline Fayard, a New Orleans attorney and Joshua Pellerin, a Lafayette oil and gas executive, also argued the law needs changes, not to be repealed.

Troy Hebert, a no-party candidate, criticized the overhaul, and blamed both mainline political parties for Obamacare and a host of other problems in Washington D.C.

"America is in trouble and both parties have blood on their hands," said Hebert, former commissioner of the Louisiana Office of Alcohol and Tobacco Control.

The 75-minute gathering was sponsored by the Louisiana Association of Heath Plans.

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