Home care, hospice and other home-and-community-based service (HCBS) providers are applauding the latest move by the Biden administration to increase COVID-19 vaccinations among homebound seniors.
On Wednesday the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said it will pay providers an additional $35 per dose of the vaccine administered to Medicare beneficiaries in their homes. For the two-dose vaccine, Medicare will pay an additional $70. CMS estimated 1.6 million adults 65 and older may be having difficulty accessing the vaccine because they can’t leave their homes or live in hard-to-reach locations.
“This is a very positive step forward,” William Dombi, President of the National Association for Home Care and Hospice, told McKnight’s Home Care Daily. “We thank the White House and CMS for the productive discussions on vaccinating homebound patients in the past few weeks. We look forward to continuing our partnership with them in getting vaccines to a very vulnerable group of individuals who cannot otherwise secure the life-saving COVID vaccines.”
Efforts by insurance companies, healthcare providers and HCBS agencies have been underway for months to get homebound seniors vaccinated. In the New York metropolitan area, PACE at ArchCare Senior Life, which has been vaccinating older adults since March, welcomed the extra boost from CMS.
“In-home vaccinations are a safe and convenient option for many seniors, and we look forward to continuing our in-home vaccine program to meet the needs of the most vulnerable members of our community,” Tami Siedler, vice president for home- and community-based care at ArchCare, told McKnight’s Home Care Daily. “The more we can do to increase accessibility, the better.”
The additional Medicare payments come as the pace of vaccinations has been slowing in some states. President Joseph Biden has set a goal of getting 70% of Americans partially vaccinated by the July 4 holiday, but so far only about 51% of Americans have received at least one shot. Roughly 75% of American 65 and older have been fully vaccinated.