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Medicare's Missing Link: Care Coordination and Family Caregiving, by Dan Tobin, M.D., CEO of Care Support of America
Date:9/10/2009

NEW YORK, Sept. 10 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following is a commentary by Dan Tobin, M.D., a nationally recognized eldercare and family caregiving expert and Founder and CEO of Care Support of America.

As healthcare reform is being debated in Congress and on Main Street, vital and practical issues in eldercare and family caregiving are being overlooked. Some 30 million U.S. baby boomers are family caregivers for their aging parents, trying to keep their parents safe at home and helping them navigate the complexities of Medicare and manage an advancing illness. If they had their say, most elderly people would prefer to age in their own homes. Regardless of how the overall healthcare debate unfolds, some incremental and cost sensitive changes in Medicare that support care coordination, family caregiving, and aging at home could help older Americans and family caregivers, while reducing hospitalizations and institutional care.

The Dartmouth Atlas of Healthcare, which for more than 20 years has tracked services provided to the Medicare population, has consistently found a lack of uniform utilizations of hospitals in serious illness. Instead, it found that in regions where people get more care, they do not necessarily get better care - or better outcomes.

Medicare's "fee for service" structure focuses on acute care and "well" visits and neglects serious chronic illness care coordination, which often falls on overwhelmed family members. This has been well documented in studies by such organizations as The Partnership for Solutions, the National Family Caregivers Association, the Family Caregiver Alliance, and the National Alliance for Caregiving.

It turns out that care coordination makes a difference. Major studies have found that if p
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SOURCE Care Support of America
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