Welcome! My guest today is Peter Fitzgerald, who is the Executive Vice President for Policy and Strategy for the National PACE Association (Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly.) The PACE program helps guide the association policy and advocacy efforts at the federal and state levels. The program is always looking to improve services for those needing long-term care.
- What is the PACE program and its history? PACE provides all the programs that the elderly need, from health care services to long-term care, all designed to keep seniors living in a community-based setting at home. It began as a pilot program in Chinatown in San Francisco, because the Chinese culture is based strongly on keeping elders at home with their families and out of nursing homes. Alternatives were explored to keep them living in the community with some assistance. The program began with a Daycenter that provided meals and healthcare and remedied the social isolation that some seniors feel. Over time, more services were added to the model. Now, people enroll in the program, which is sponsored by local healthcare provider organizations. PACE meets all the healthcare needs of the seniors except housing, but provides transportation, day centers, therapy, rehabilitation, meals, doctor visits, and home care services. The overall goal of the program is to keep seniors living in the community rather than in nursing homes.
- Is it true that the PACE program is its own network of doctors and facilities combined into one? Yes, it’s designed to be a complete system. PACE programs employ their own doctors, nurses, practitioners, home health aides, home health nurses, and transportation services. The program secures contracts with hospitals for Medicare services and other needs.
- Which Medicare coverage will pay for the PACE program? Upon enrollment, the PACE program becomes the source of all Medicare benefits and replaces traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage Plans. Medicare actually pays the PACE program monthly for patient care, so in reality, it’s like another Medicare Advantage Plan.
- Who is eligible for PACE? Enrollees must be 55 or older and live within a PACE service area, which is usually about a 45 minute driving radius. The program becomes all-encompassing health care, so patients must have access to a PACE center within a reasonable distance. The program is designed for those with complex and chronic needs. However, if someone has to enter a nursing home during their care, then the program does continue for them, even though they were not able to remain at home.
- Almost one-half of PACE enrollees have some sort of dementia diagnosis, so do you think those numbers will continue to increase? The dementia and Alzheimer’s diagnoses are a potential area of growth for PACE. The president recently signed into law the creation of some new PACE programs that allow enrollment for some people under age 55. Early intervention may help people improve and maintain their quality of life.
- What would the average cost be for a private pay patient under the PACE program? It would vary greatly from state to state, but the average would probably be around $3000/month with no co-pay or deductible. The rate is determined by the state, but remember that long-term care is included in the program, AND you get to stay in your home with your loved ones.
- Is PACE considered “for profit” or “not for profit”? The program originally began as “not for profit,” but has since allowed “for profit” sponsorships. There is currently only one “for profit” PACE program operating in PA, but these will become more widely available in the future.
- How many PACE programs are there? In 32 states, there are 116 PACE organizations currently serving 220 communities. You can find out more about the program and its availability in your local area by visiting www.pace4u.org or www.npaonline.org. You can also call 703-535-1565, find them on Facebook, or on Twitter @TweetNPA.
- Can individuals volunteer or donate within the PACE program? YES! There are many ways to volunteer and donations are always accepted. Check with your local organization for further information.
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