VNA Health Group’s Hospice Programs Selected to Participate in the Medicare Care Choices Model

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VNA Health Group has been selected to participate in a new Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Model that aims to increase choice and quality by enabling individuals to receive palliative and curative care concurrently.

“Patients and their families are dealing with some of the most difficult challenges that they will ever face in their lives and now they will no longer have to choose between electing curative treatments or electing hospice care."

Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) Health Group, announced that it has been selected to participate in the Medicare Care Choices Model, a new Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) initiative designed to provide Medicare beneficiaries greater flexibility in deciding between hospice care and curative treatment when faced with a life limiting illness.

Three of VNA Health Group’s Hospice programs are participating in the five-year demonstration. Visiting Nurse Association of Englewood will begin providing services in phase one of the model on January 1, 2016, and Robert Wood Johnson Visiting Nurses and Visiting Nurse Association of Central Jersey are slated to begin their participation in phase two, starting in 2018.

The model, announced by CMS last week, will provide Medicare beneficiaries who qualify for coverage under the Medicare Hospice Benefit and dually eligible beneficiaries who qualify for the Medicaid Hospice Benefit, the option to elect to receive supportive care services typically provided by hospice and continue to receive curative services at the same time.

“VNA Health Group was one of the first home health care providers in New Jersey to incorporate hospice and palliative treatment options for our patients and we are honored to participate in this important demonstration project that has the potential to improve the health and well-being of every American who is facing a serious illness,” said Steven Landers, MD, MPH, President and CEO of VNA Health Group. “We laud CMS for making the important and necessary decisions to advance cutting-edge health care and are grateful for the opportunity to participate.”

“The Medicare Care Choices Model offers an opportunity to impact the lives of patients who are dealing with a life-threatening illness in such a therapeutic and compassionate manner,” said Ellen Gusick, Chief Nursing Officer at VNA Health Group. “Patients and their families are dealing with some of the most difficult challenges that they will ever face in their lives and now they will no longer have to choose between electing curative treatments or electing hospice care that offers so many medical and emotional benefits.”

All eligible hospices across the country were invited to apply to participate in the model. Due to robust interest, CMS expanded the model from an originally anticipated 30 Medicare-certified hospices to more than 140 Medicare-certified hospices and extended the duration of the model from 3 to 5 years. The demonstration is expected to enable as many as 150,000 eligible Medicare beneficiaries with advanced cancers, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, congestive heart failure, and human immunodeficiency virus/acquired immunodeficiency syndrome, to receive services from participating hospices and experience this new option and flexibility.

VNA of Englewood is operated by VNA Health Group in partnership with Englewood Hospital and Medical Center. Robert Wood Johnson Visiting Nurses is operated by VNA Health Group in partnership with RWJ University Hospital. VNA of Central Jersey is operated by VNA Health Group.

For additional information on the model or list of participating hospices, visit http://innovation.cms.gov/initiatives/Medicare-Care-Choices/ and http://www.cms.gov/Newsroom/MediaReleaseDatabase/Fact-sheets/2015-Fact-sheets-items/2015-07-20.html.    

About VNA Health Group
Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) Health Group is New Jersey’s largest not-for-profit visiting nurse association and visiting physician service that help individuals and families achieve their best level of health and well-being by providing home health, hospice, palliative and community-based care and operating private-pay personal care services. A full range of primary-care services are available through VNACJ Community Health Centers. Our unique partnership model with health systems leverages clinical and technical resources to operate VNA of Central Jersey, Cape VNA, Robert Wood Johnson Visiting Nurses, VNA of Englewood, and Visiting Physician Services. Currently we employ more than 1,400 and each year, care for over 120,000 people. For more than 100 years, we have had a commitment to serving vulnerable populations such as children, older adults and those with disabling and chronic illness or facing end of life. For more information about VNA Health Group call 800.862.3330, visit http://www.vnahg.org and follow us on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/VNAHealthGroup.

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