By Aaron Retherford
Come next year, Central Vermont Home Health & Hospice will be included in some notable company as one of 140 hospice providers in the U.S. participating in the Medicare Care Choices Model.
The pilot project expands the availability of care for patients. In this program, patients who are eligible for Medicaid Hospice Benefit have the option to receive supportive care from CVHHH, while continuing to receive curative treatment. The current system prevents patients from seeking curative treatment when they choose to enter hospice care. The focus at that point is on pain and symptom management and quality of life.
CVHHH President & CEO Sandy Rousse has high hopes for the pilot program, which could possibly bridge the gap between the care patients receive from their doctors and when they are at home or in the community.
“This is an opportunity to provide more support to individuals beyond when they go in for their treatments or during their appointments,” Rousse said. “It gives us a chance to provide more care coordination because the system can be very overwhelming. So many people are going through these things not only feel overwhelmed by what they’re going through but also they’re afraid to task and overwhelm their families.”
Nationwide, as many as 150,000 eligible Medicare beneficiaries with various serious illnesses – who receive services from participating hospices – will be allowed to experience these newly available services and the added flexibility.
CVHHH will enter the program with seven other not-for-profit VNAs in Vermont in January 2016. The other two not-for-profit VNAs that also were selected for the program will spend the first two years collecting data and will act as the control to measure the pilot program’s impact. They will then participate fully in the pilot starting in January 2018. The program is scheduled to last for five years.
The not-for-profit VNAs in Vermont have already been working closely with each other for years, sharing their best practices and learning from each other’s experiences.
“This is going to give us a great opportunity as a system to work together and see how we work providing the same type of service and solutions across the state,” Rousse said. “We’re very excited that the majority of the VNAs have been chosen. It just gives us more of an opportunity to work together and see how it looks statewide and what the outcomes are.”