HHS Secretary: ‘We Want to Go Further’ with Medicare Advantage In-Home Benefits

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Medicare Advantage plans could get even more flexibility to address social determinants of health for beneficiaries if Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has his way.

In turn, that could mean even more opportunities for home care providers to offer and be reimbursed for services such as companion care, bathing, transportation and more.

“Our system can often be penny-wise and pound-foolish, spending generously on health care without considering how health could be improved by addressing non-health needs,” Azar said Tuesday during the Medicare Advantage (MA) Summit hosted by the Better Medicare Alliance in Washington, D.C.

“You’ve already seen one effort to address [social determinants] through new supplemental benefits in Medicare Advantage, like home-delivered meals, transportation and home modifications,” he told summit attendees. “We want to go further, and we look forward to working with all of you to think about how best to do that.”

Currently, Medicare Advantage plans can offer supplemental benefitsthat compensate for physical impairments, lessen the impact of injuries or health conditions or reduce avoidable hospital admissions.

In 2020, they’ll have the flexibility to offer beneficiaries with chronic conditions any supplemental benefit that has a “reasonable expectation” to improve or maintain patient health.

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