ANN ARBOR, MI — Today Altarum launches a blueprint for setting up a comprehensive, practical care system for tens of millions of Americans who will live into advanced old age during the 21st century. The reforms, crystallized in locally-driven programs known as MediCaring Communities, derive from the best evidence compiled to date, and are thoroughly explained in a comprehensive guide that can be used by policymakers, analysts, and health and social services providers practicing in the field. Following five years of work in quality improvement, simulation of the financing, and working with an array of communities nationwide, the model proposes to erase the gaps between “acute” and “long term care” services and is designed to be sustainable within the confines of existing programs.
MediCaring Communities: Getting What We Want and Need in Frail Old Age at an Affordable Price, is authored by Joanne Lynn, MD, MA, MS, director of Altarum’s Center for Elder Care and Advanced Illness (CECAI), and her team.
“Dr. Lynn is arguably the most authoritative voice on elder care reform in America, and this book is the recipe for resolving what otherwise will be an intractable—and worsening—problem,” said Jim Lee, vice-president, Altarum. “This is the framework we’ve been waiting for, a comprehensive blueprint for reform, and it is our hope that the reforms can be embedded in mainstream policy and payment discussions at the federal, state, and local levels. We believe the time is ripe for enabling pilot programs to move ahead.”
“The book explains how we can adapt our current programs to focus on the explosion of frail elderly people and serve them well, even as we also work to decrease the per capita cost of health care,” Lynn said. “Paradoxically, if we pay more attention to services and supports that are largely provided in the home, we can reduce utilization of the highest-cost medical services and use a portion of the savings to build stronger support systems in our communities. Most people can live out their lives safely and meaningfully in their own homes—if they also have reliable supports, rehabilitation, and attentive medical care,” said Dr. Lynn. “MediCaring Communities would be locally chartered programs that would serve as a point of pride for communities serving elders and their families well. Today, elders have instant access to high-cost services and drugs, but families struggling to support a loved one with dementia cannot find respite, or personal care. We need to shift the care system to be able to provide easy access to the services that people really want.”
Just last week, The Milbank Quarterly published Altarum’s very conservative financial simulation of the MediCaring Communities model, showing that each of four communities would have savings between $269 and $537 per-person per-month to invest in community-based services.