CMS is making progress on a new benefit for Medicare beneficiaries with serious chronic or advanced illness. The model would effectively extend palliative care services to these individuals, bridging a gap in coverage.
The new benefit could bring many of the strengths of the Medicare hospice benefit to people who are still receiving treatment for their conditions and who are not yet at the end of their lives. It would allow home health agencies to deliver team-based care at aimed managing pain and distress, helping individuals function as well as possible with their condition, and reducing hospitalizations and emergency room visits.
A memo recently released by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) confirms that such a model is being formally considered. This is very good news. Many individuals, not just those at the end of life, could benefit from a program that addresses their physical, emotional, social, spiritual, and cultural needs and preferences. We will follow progress on this program closely.