Demand for home care accelerated during the Covid-19 pandemic, and though regulations were passed to support this shift, they remain temporary.
A group of providers, technology firms and home healthcare companies have joined forces to establish an alliance that aims to make those changes permanent. Launched on Wednesday, the founding members include Amazon Care, Signify Health, DispatchHealth, Intermountain Healthcare and Ascension.
The alliance, called Moving Health Home, will focus on changing the way policymakers think about the home as a site of clinical service. The group’s policy priorities include:
- Advocating for Medicare coverage of higher-acuity home-based services, such as emergency services.
- Making the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ “Hospital without Walls” flexibility permanent — which will enable providers to transfer or treat patients in home-based settings when clinically appropriate.
- Ensuring equal access for seniors through fair reimbursement for home-based evaluation and monitoring codes.
- Advocating for a bundled payment model for extended care in the home.
- Encouraging greater flexibility for home-based care services to meet commercial and Medicare Advantage network adequacy standards.
“At Intermountain Healthcare, we know it is important to provide the best possible care in the setting that works for not only the caregiver but the patient as well,” said Lance Madigan, spokesperson for Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Healthcare, in an email.
Home-based clinical care is not a novel concept. The healthcare industry has been lumbering toward this care option for the past decade.
Now, post-Covid, the move to home-based care is on steroids with regular announcements from payers and providers of new programs to make this a reality. Home care start-up DispatchHealth recently struck a deal with national payer Humana and also became a health tech unicorn, passing $1.7 billion in valuation.
The trend has been buoyed by the government expanding regulations and reimbursement to enable home-based clinical care for higher-acuity conditions.
But what happens after the pandemic ends, despite the gains made, is a cause for concern for those involved in the alliance.
“Once the emergency authority of the public health emergency ends, we will go back to a payment system that doesn’t fit the new models that have developed,” said Krista Drobac, executive director of Moving Health Home, in an email. “We have to educate policymakers on what’s possible and share evidence about how home-based clinical care is working.”
Policymakers have to catch up to what the investors have figured out already. They poured $100 million into in-home primary care startup Heal last year.
Photo: SDI Productions, Getty Images