Portland in-home health care service Housecall Providers says it saved Medicare more than $1.8 million in additional expenses this year.

The savings came through the company’s participation in a pilot Independence at Home Demonstration Project.

The savings from Housecall Providers outpaced those of 14 other in-home health care firms participating in the pilot program, the Portland company announced.

All told, the firms saved more than $10 million in the second year of the program, an average of $1,010 per participating beneficiary, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said.

Housecall Providers achieved a 26 percent savings in patient health costs over a comparison group that did not receive home-based primary care.

“We are thrilled that we can save Medicare this amount of money and deliver what we know to be the best kind of care for the chronically ill — home-based primary care,” said Terri Hobbs, executive director of Housecall Providers. “I cannot say enough about the level of attention our clinical and support staff offers our patients every day.”

The Independence at Home project attempts to drive down costs by providing quality in-home care to the nation’s sickest patients. About five percent of the Medicare population require 50 percent of Medicare funding for their complex and expensive care, and many of the patients in this project fall into that category.

Providers in the program had to reduce the rate of emergency room visits, hospitalizations and 30-day hospital readmissions among their patients. They also had to follow-up when patients wound up in the ER or the hospital, and had to demonstrate that patients’ wishes were considered in their care.

Health care providers who keep their expenditures under a target amount while meeting these quality measures are eligible for bonus payments. For meeting those six quality measures in its treatment of 249 patients, Housecall Providers will receive approximately $1.1 million as its share of the savings to Medicare.

Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, praised Housecall Providers for its “continued leadership.”

“I’m going to push harder than ever to make sure older Americans across the country can continue to receive this kind of care in the comfort of their home,” said Wyden, who along with Sen Edward Markey, D-Mass, authored the provision in the Affordable Care Act that created the Independence at Home project.

Individual participants in IAH must:

  • Have two or more chronic conditions.
  • Have coverage from original, fee-for-service (FFS) Medicare.
  • Need assistance with two or more functional dependencies (e.g., walking or feeding).
  • Have had a non-elective hospital admission within the last 12 months.
  • Have received acute or subacute rehabilitation services in the last 12 months.

Dennis Thompson is a contributing health care reporter based in Salem.

Source: http://www.governing.com/topics/health-human-services/stateline-house-calls-cut-medicaid-costs.html