The AHA earlier this week expressed its support for legislation that would make permanent a Medicare demonstration program that provides primary care to patients at home.

The 2010 Affordable Care Act created the three-year Independence at Home demonstration program, which Congress last year extended for another two years. In July, Sens. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, Ed Markey, D-Mass., John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Michael Bennet, D-Colo, introduced the Independence at Home Act, S. 3130, to make the program permanent.  

“Several AHA members participate in this demonstration and have expressed enthusiasm for its continuation, and more widespread adoption of its home-based approach,” AHA Executive Vice President Tom Nickels wrote the senators Aug. 29.

Through the demonstration program, up to 10,000 high-cost Medicare beneficiaries nationwide can receive primary care services in their homes and care coordination across all treatment settings. Physicians have incentives to reduce the usual costs of caring for chronically ill patients and are held accountable for maintaining quality of care standards and improving patient satisfaction. The first 5% of the savings goes to Medicare, with any remaining savings split between Medicare and the participants.

Overall, the demonstration nationally saved more than $25 million, an average of $3,070 per participating beneficiary, in its first year.

“National and permanent expansion of the model would allow more providers to implement its home-based approach as part of their overall care redesign efforts and – more importantly – allow more Medicare beneficiaries to appreciate its benefits,” the AHA said.