Mcknights Home Care – PACE expansion bill draws bipartisan support

A bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation that would improve care coordination for dual-eligible beneficiaries and expand the Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly to a larger share of people.

“This legislation is a start at redesigning our current patchwork approach of delivering long-term services and supports,” Katie Smith Sloan, president and chief executive officer of LeadingAge, said in a statement Thursday. “This is a true win.”

Sens. Bill Cassidy, MD, (R-LA), Tom Carper (D-DE), John Cornyn (R-TX), Mark Warner (D-VA), Tim Scott (R-SC) and Bob Menendez (D-NJ) introduced the Delivering United Access to Lifesaving Services (DUALS) Act of 2024 on Thursday. Already, organizations including LeadingAge, the National PACE Association, Welbe Health and more than a dozen others have announced their endorsement for the bill.

The legislation’s primary function would be to require every state to develop a comprehensive, integrated health plan for dual-eligible beneficiaries, according to a summary. The bill also would require every state to allow PACE programs to be established, open up enrollment to any time in a given month, and extend PACE coverage to people under 55 years of age. 

PACE centers serve mostly dual-eligible beneficiaries who qualify for skilled nursing care but are able to remain at home and in their community, a representative for WelbeHealth, a PACE provider, said in a statement to McKnight’s Home Care Daily Pulse

“The DUALS Act marks a crucial stride forward in expanding access to care coordination for frail dual eligible beneficiaries through an innovative model called PACE,” Amy Shin, WelbeHealth’s chief mission officer, said. “This bill is thoughtful and represents a significant opportunity to enhance access to the gold standard for quality of care for our most frail and vulnerable seniors.”

Dual-eligible individuals, who qualify for Medicare and Medicaid, are responsible for a disproportionate share of government healthcare spending, according to the senators. Innovative, cost-effective care strategies can create payment efficiencies while also producing better patient outcomes, they said.

“Patients dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid have much worse outcomes than other groups even though there is a lot more money spent on their care,” Cassidy said in a statement. “Making Medicare and Medicaid better work together makes patients healthier and saves money.”

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