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Longevity Health Plan and Humana have announced that their managed care partnership has picked up speed with a new caregiving collaboration with Touchstone Communities. Longevity and Touchstone have formed an independent provider association that will serve Humana members living in Texas starting in 2024.

The Longevity-Humana partnership will provide special needs health plan offerings for Medicare-eligible individuals in skilled nursing facilities and senior living communities. The companies plan to launch their initiative in a handful of additional states in 2024 and add others in 2025.

“It’s a very big deal,” Marc Hudak told McKnight’s Friday in announcing the new joint venture. “We are leveraging Humana’s license, their H-contract with [the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services], their network, their infrastructure and their scale. They serve 5 million people every day, so there’s a lot of value there. What Longevity brings is we create these value-based trusted partners like the Touchstones of the world.”

He said that Longevity pursues a unique, value-based model that allows providers to be “rewarded for the value they are creating through the clinical side.”

As part of the Touchstone pact, Longevity will hire and manage specially trained care teams including advanced practice clinicians such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, in addition to medical directors, pharmacy experts, medical assistants and others. Those teams will work on-site in Touchstone communities to care for Humana’s enrolled members.

Beneficiaries will receive services such as no copays for primary care and behavioral health visits, transportation to medical appointments, an over-the counter benefit for health products, preventive and hearing aid coverage and other supplemental benefits.

Humana’s Medicare Advantage plans in Texas cover more than 440,000 people, according to Humana Texas Medicare President Bill White.

“Our partnership with Longevity enables us to expand our reach as this new Institutional special needs plan (ISNP) helps meet the specific needs of high-acuity members who live in senior living settings,” he said.

Riding a wave

Special needs plans are Medicare Advantage plans that bundle the benefits of Medicare parts A and B with Part D prescription drug coverage. They often are designed for needy beneficiaries in long-term care facilities who may have dual eligibility for Medicare and Medicaid.

The Longevity-Humana partnership originally was announced in May and is expected to cover more than a dozen states initially.

“We have the 13-state partnership (with Humana), and we also have a partnership with Aetna that is quite large in scope, and we’re already up and running with Aetna in Pennsylvania,” Hudak explained. “And we’re launching in a handful of additional markets with both Aetna and Humana in the next 45 days.”

Longevity prides itself on creating skilled nursing-centered plans, whereas others may center on primary care, hospitals and other, acute-care providers, Hudak said. Longevity currently serves 6,000 people in eight states, is the fastest-growing ISNP in the country and may be the second or third largest, he added.

“What’s unique about this is, now we’re playing the convener role because the Humanas of the world, the Aetnas of the world, they are the health plan partners. So we’re facilitating conversations that haven’t happened before between the health plan, Longevity and the SNF operator and talking differently about how we want to work in a value-based partnership,” Hudak said. “That is different, and we’re just getting started. It’s going to be a busy five years. There is so much need and opportunity in this space. We’re growing at a multiple of what we have before.”

Hudak said that large national plans started contacting Longevity about a year and a half ago. They told Longevity that they “really believe in the ISNP space” and wanted to be able to provide continuity of services for people who may be with them for 20 years or more and eventually need skilled nursing care, he recalled.

Hudak said that providers need to realize the inevitability of Medicare Advantage grabbing even more market share.

“Medicare Advantage is real, and it’s here to stay,” he said. “Every year, 2% to 3% more of my population are enrolled. SNF operators need to proactively approach health plans with a strategy of ‘Here’s how we’re going to work together to increase value and health outcomes.’ This model uniquely places us at the intersection to be that convener, to help facilitate these conversations. We believe there’s a lot of runway to grow and expand.”