KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

At Home Or In Facilities, Care For Elderly Changing Rapidly

News outlets cover the reliability of nursing home ratings, the growth of home health care aides and the return of the house call.

The New York Times: Medicare Star Ratings Allow Nursing Homes To Game The System
What really sets Rosewood apart, however, is its five-star rating from Medicare, which has been assigning hotel-style ratings to nearly every nursing home in the country for the last five years. ... But an examination of the rating system by The New York Times has found that Rosewood and many other top-ranked nursing homes have been given a seal of approval that is based on incomplete information and that can seriously mislead consumers, investors and others about conditions at the homes. The Medicare ratings, which have become the gold standard across the industry, are based in large part on self-reported data by the nursing homes that the government does not verify (Thomas, 8/24).

The Wall Street Journal: Help Wanted (A Lot): Home-Health Aides
Dolores Streater works in one of the fastest-growing professions in the country. It is also among the lowest-paying and most-demanding. And, not coincidentally, it has particularly high turnover. Ms. Streater is a home health-care aide. ... No major segment of the workforce is expected to expand faster in coming years than that of the paid caregivers who assist aging Americans at home. The jobs typically don't require a high-school diploma, there is little required training and the average workweek is 34 hours. The U.S. Labor Department predicts the profession will grow by nearly 50%, or the equivalent of nearly a million new jobs, by 2022 (Portlock, 8/22).

The Associated Press: House Calls For Elderly Save Money
Ten or 12 times a year, Beatrice Adams’ daughter would race her frail mother to the emergency room (ER) for high blood pressure or pain from a list of chronic illnesses. Then Adams found a doctor who makes house calls, and the 89-year-old hasn’t needed ER care in the nearly two years since. ... The old-fashioned house call is starting to make a comeback as part of an effort to improve care for some of Medicare’s most frail and expensive patients. While it may sound like a luxury, bringing team-based primary care into the homes of patients like Adams, according to a new study, actually could save Medicare money (Neergaard, 8/24).

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