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Health News Round-Up: New Medicaid Rule Emphasizes Home Health Care

Proposed Medicaid Rule Highlights the Importance of Community-Based Care

Recent health news from across the web: a Medicaid proposal emphasizing in-home support, identifying Alzheimer’s, alcohol and senior hearts, and more.

In May, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new proposed rule governing Medicaid regulations for managed care. The last time these regulations were updated was in 2002, and the new rule reflects growing reliance on community-based ‘long-term services and supports,’ including home health care.

If accepted, the proposed rule could make it easier for Medicaid-eligible seniors to receive benefits for care at home or elsewhere in their communities, rather than in a long-term or skilled nursing facility. As the majority of seniors prefer to age in place, and home health care has been shown to keep patients out of the hospital, these regulations appear to address both the needs and the capabilities of this growing segment of the population. The complete proposed rule was published online June 1 for a formal comment period through July 27, 2015.

(Major New Medicaid Proposal Promotes Home Care; Home Health Care News)

Alzheimer’s Signs May Differ in Some Younger Patients

The initial signs of Alzheimer’s disease or dementia are often based in memory: a person has an uncharacteristically forgetful episode, or keeps losing track of keys. However, a new study of thousands of Alzheimer’s patients suggests that for a subset of younger patients, other symptoms can arise before the telltale memory loss. About one-fourth of patients under age 60 initially reported trouble with language or problem solving, rather than memory — a much higher percentage than in the older age groups. Findings like these could eventually lead to improved screening and testing methods, in a continued effort toward earliest-possible diagnosis and intervention.

(Memory loss may not always be first sign of Alzheimer’s; Reuters Health)

Home Education and Support for Better Dementia Caregiving

A recent study compared an experimental home-support program against conventional care for patients with dementia. In the new program, caregivers received regular advice, information, and encouragement over the phone by trained operators (as overseen by licensed clinicians). The patients’ caregivers reported higher satisfaction with the telephone-based program, as well as stronger confidence in their own caregiving abilities. Moreover, nursing home use was lower in the home-supported group. The study results suggest the value of more active — and more frequent — care for dementia.

(Home-Based Dementia Care Reduces Nursing Home Admissions; Home Health Care News)

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