New Medicaid rule requires face-to-face doc visit before home health services
Beginning July 1, physicians must document a face-to-face encounter with a patient to validate Medicaid coverage for home health services and medical equipment. A similar rule has long been in effect for Medicare. The final regulations released Wednesday imposing a similar rule for Medicaid come nearly five years after the CMS first proposed the policy under a provision of the Affordable Care Act. To validate the need for coverage under the new rule, a physician must document that a face-to-face patient encounter took place no more than 90 days before, or 30 days after, the start of home health services. For a patient to get medical equipment, a physician or authorized provider must document that an encounter took place no more than six months before the equipment was received.
The rule does not apply to Medicaid managed care. The CMS said it is deferring to states to determine the application of the face-to-face requirement in managed-care plans to best meet the needs of their beneficiaries. The CMS did not provide an estimate of the savings it expects to achieve with the rule. The agency previously estimated that a similar Medicare policy would save the program $2.29 billion between 2010 and 2019.
Fitness trackers may improve senior health monitoring
Wearable technology like smartwatches and fitness trackers are becoming increasingly common devices to help people stay motivated towards their health goals. Mobile trackers can remind people when they have been sedentary too long, monitor heart rates and record sleep quality. While these are all handy features for any person, for the elderly this technology can provide an important level of monitoring and care to improve their overall health.
Boosting activity with fitness trackers
LiveScience reported on a study in which 50 women aged in their 50s and 60s were monitored for several weeks, with half the group wearing a FitBit fitness tracker and the other half wearing a basic pedometer. The FitBit is worn on the wrist and tracks the number of steps a person takes, alerts the person when it’s time to move again, records sleep and in some models will measure heart rates. The pedometer, on the other hand, only tracks the number of steps taken. The participants were overweight women who said that they did not exercise often. During the course of the study they were asked to achieve 150 minutes a week of vigorous physical activity. By the end of four months, the women using the FitBit were logging 62 more minutes of activity than those who had the standard pedometers.
Health monitoring for seniors
There are many brands of fitness trackers on the market that offer varying levels of monitoring. Some, like the CarePredict, are made especially with senior’s unique health and comfort concerns in mind. These senior-focused trackers can also report back to care providers to alert them of a sudden or alarming change in activity, which can help improve the level of home care seniors can have.
A study by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) found that 67 percent of participants aged 50 and older found fitness trackers beneficial. They did see areas where the technology could be expanded, however, like by including additional health features such as monitoring blood sugar levels for those with diabetes