It remains to be seen how many physicians will embrace the services that the government will now reimburse. Organizations that advocated for the new payment policies hope they'll make primary care and geriatrics more attractive areas of practice in the years ahead.
Here's a look at what is entailed:
Complex Chronic Care Management
Two years ago, Medicare began paying nurses, social workers and medical assistants to coordinate care for seniors with two or more serious chronic conditions. But low reimbursement and burdensome requirements discouraged most medical practices from taking this on.
New payments for "complex chronic care management" are more generous (an average $93.67 for the first hour, $47.01 for each half hour thereafter) and can be billed more often, making them more attractive.
They'll cover services such as managing seniors' transitions from the hospital back home or to a rehabilitation center, coordinating home-based services, connecting patients with resources, and educating caregivers about their conditions.
Many practices will be able to hire care managers with this new financial support, said Dr. Peter Hollmann, secretary of the American Geriatrics Society and chief medical officer of University Medicine, a medical group practice associated with Brown University's medical school.
To illustrate the benefits, he tells of a recent patient, with diabetes, hypertension and heart failure who was retaining fluid and had poorly controlled blood sugar. After a care manager began calling the 72-year-old man every few days, asking if he was checking his blood sugar or gaining weight, Hoffmann adjusted doses of insulin and diuretics.
"The patient remained at home and he's doing well, and we likely prevented a hospitalization," Hoffmann said.
Kaiser Health News is a national health policy news service that is part of the nonpartisan Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.