House Bill Aims to Expand Home, Community Care Options

A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers is seeking to increase the number of people who can remain in their homes thanks to the Medicare Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), introducing a bill in the U.S. House of Representatives to expand that program.

The PACE program is designed to enable seniors who need a nursing home level of care to instead remain at home or in a community-based setting, by providing more flexibility than traditional fee-for-service Medicare and Medicaid rules allow. Under PACE, rather than entering an institution, a beneficiary can receive coordinated care through an interdisciplinary team of providers. There currently are 114 PACE programs in 32 states.

The PACE Innovation Act of 2015—introduced Tuesday in the House—would allow certain individuals who are younger than 55 to participate in the program, as well as other groups who are deemed likely to benefit from taking part.

“The PACE program continues to be a comprehensive, provider-based health plan with a proven track record of high quality care for seniors while enabling them to live independently at home,” said co-sponsor Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.). “PACE significantly boosts the quality of life for the seniors it currently serves and my legislation would broaden eligibility so more individuals can get the help they need—at a time it could be even more beneficial.”

Other bill sponsors include Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Jim McDermott (D-Wash.). 

“We appreciate leaders in Congress supporting our efforts to expand the number of individuals who can benefit from the PACE model of care,” said Shawn Bloom, president and CEO of the National PACE Association (NPA), in a statement issued Wednesday. “NPA and PACE organizations have been working for years to provide opportunities for innovation of the PACE model. PACE providers recognize that the model can serve as an effective platform for the delivery of long-term services and supports for vulnerable individuals living in many different types of circumstances.”

A companion Senate bill was unanimously reported out of the Finance Committee earlier this summer.

Written by Tim Mullaney