Medicare Launches Health Coaches Program for Chronically Ill
CMS this month launched Medicare Health Support, a new program that will provide Medicare beneficiaries with access to health coaches to advise beneficiaries with chronic illnesses about medical choices, preventive care and other issues, the AP/Las Vegas Sun reports.
CMS launched the three-year program -- which seeks to reduce Medicare costs and improve the health of beneficiaries -- in Oklahoma, Maryland and Washington, D.C., and later will expand the program to Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, New York, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. The program, which is administered by private health care companies, provides 180,000 fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries who have diabetes, congestive heart failure or both with customized health care plans and 24-hour hot lines to help them with issues that range from treatments to living wills.
According to Tamara Hall -- senior vice president of innovation at Massachusetts-based Health Dialog Services, which will implement the program in western Pennsylvania -- health coaches can help Medicare beneficiaries determine which questions to ask their physicians. She added that health coaches will seek to reduce confusion among beneficiaries and "help them digest what's going on."
Under the program, health coaches will receive a fee per Medicare beneficiary per month, based on the geographic area, and each region will have a control group of 10,000 beneficiaries to compare quality of care and medical costs, according to Sandy Foote, a senior adviser with CMS. Health care companies that do not save at least 5% on the medical costs for Medicare beneficiaries who participate in the program compared with those in the control group will have to return their fees to CMS (Santanam, AP/Las Vegas Sun, 8/8).
NPR's "Morning Edition" on Tuesday included an interview with HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt about the new Medicare prescription drug benefit and other issues (Inskeep, "Morning Edition," NPR, 8/9). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.