One Simple Question – Update

In late May, I wrote about including in Medicare health history questionnaires the question, “Are you currently providing assistance to a family member or friend who has a health condition?” For older caregivers, health risks can be significantly higher and asking the question first recognizes those who may not “identify” with being a caregiver and second, provides an opportunity to assess health needs and community support.

Currently under consideration from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) – whose responsibility it is to oversee these programs at the federal level – are Payment Policies Under the Physician Schedule and Other Revisions to Part B for CY 2011 (File Code: CMS-1503-P). Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Health Care Reform), there is a section that establishes an annual Medicare wellness visit that includes a health risk assessment and creates a personalized prevention plan for certain conditions. Among the conditions cited is the presence of a cognitive impairment to be defined during this process. Advocates are now providing comment to CMS to also include a caregiver assessment and well as to assess the level of support at home for individual with high risk conditions.

Also in this section, advocates have urged that updates of an individual’s medical history should include whether the beneficiary is a caregiver so screening can be made for additional health risks and referral to community support.

In this way, FCA hopes that this will be the decade of inclusion and integration of informal caregivers within the health and social service systems making families true partners in care, recognizing the health risks to those involved and minimizing the impact by providing assistance at the community level for those who care.

We will keep you apprised as to the progress of this policy change in later blog postings.

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