If it aint broke, don’t fix it. This is the homespun wisdom Ken Coburn is imparting to the Secretary of Health and Human Services after learning Medicare is cutting funds for his program, Health Quality Partners, seemingly, because they can. The program, based out of Doylesville, Pennsylvania, provides weekly nurse visits to Medicare patients who have at least one chronic disease and one hospitalization within the past year. It’s a program that was approved by Medicare and extended, with great success, but now due to confusing bureaucratic lingo, the program is slated to be discontinued in June.
Patients with chronic illnesses including heart disease, diabetes, cancer and even AIDS require long term care management. There is often no cure for a chronic diagnosis, but with medication, lifestyle change and other interventions, people are living longer than they did at the turn of the century. While some programs utilize crowded nurse call centers in different states for care management, the Health Quality Partners model of getting nurses out in the field to visit patients was revolutionary and the results, undeniable.
According to Mathematica Policy Research, the independent evaluator hired by Medicare to judge programs, Health Quality Partners reduced hospitalizations by 33 percent and cut Medicare costs by 22 percent.