The nation’s senior citizens would receive at-home medical care under bipartisan, bicameral legislation introduced by U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski (R-IN) and U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA).
The Comprehensive Care for Seniors Act of 2018, H.R. 6561/S. 3338, would direct the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services to finalize proposed provisions relating to the Programs of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) under the Medicare and Medicaid programs, according to the text of the bill in the congressional record.
“Seniors facing health challenges should have the option to receive high-quality, comprehensive health care while continuing to live at home, and the PACE program helps them do that,” said Rep. Walorski, who introduced H.R. 6561 on July 26. Original cosponsors of the measure include U.S. Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-KS) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR).
Sen. Cassidy is an original cosponsor of S. 3338, introduced on Aug. 1 by U.S. Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE).
PACE, a proven model for delivering high-quality, coordinated and comprehensive community-based health care, is available to seniors and individuals with disabilities who meet certain criteria for nursing home care but who want to remain living at home, according to a statement released by Rep. Walorski’s office. Currently, 124 PACE organizations across 31 states serve more than 45,000 people, the statement said.
The legislation would require the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to finalize new regulation updates for PACE programs by Dec. 31.
“PACE organizations across the country, including St. Joseph PACE in Mishawaka, have proven this integrated care program is effective in improving health outcomes and quality of life,” Rep. Walorski said. “The PACE program is long overdue for an update, and this bipartisan, common sense legislation will ensure improvements are made quickly so more seniors can live at home longer.”
Rep. Blumenauer added that the PACE program has been “extremely beneficial” in both his district and around the country. “The administration has a responsibility to modernize the program and make it available to more Americans,” he said.
Expanding the numbers of patients and PACE sites needed to serve them is a major goal for the National PACE Association, said Shawn Bloom, the organization’s president and CEO. “The flexibility to be provided in the new PACE Final Rule are practices that have been developed and field tested over 20 years,” he said.
Stacey Newton, executive director of Saint Joseph PACE in Mishawaka, Ind., said the group appreciated the lawmakers’ support of PACE. “The new PACE Final Rule will allow us to expand PACE more quickly to improve the lives of individuals whose health care needs make them eligible for nursing home care,” she said.
H.R. 6561 has been referred for consideration to the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and to the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee. S. 3338 is being reviewed by the U.S. Senate Finance Committee.