NACHC, in partnership with the National PACE Association, Galway Group, and Capital Link, has launched the PACE at Community Health Centers program funded through The Retirement Research Foundation. The PACE (Program for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) program offers a solution to elderly patients who need access to health care services in a cost-effective and coordinated way, especially when transportation and mobility pose a challenge. Health centers served more than 3.5 million elderly patients last year, and this number is continuing to climb as patients age in place with their care providers.
Through PACE programs, the elderly can address their chronic health needs, access long-term service and support, and maintain some measure of independence in a cost-effective manner. Dually-eligible older adults (those qualifying for both Medicaid and Medicare) may also be eligible to receive many resources, including transportation to/from the PACE center, grocery store, and medical facilities; assessment and implementation of home safety measures such as safety railings and ramps; meal services; and both acute and chronic care.
Currently, only 6 of the approximately 124 PACE centers in the U.S. are operated by Community Health Centers, but the concept is catching on. That is why the PACE at Community Health Centers partners are leveraging their resources and skills to help other health centers develop the building blocks for their own PACE programs. Thanks to the efforts of The Galway Group, the PACE model is being promoted in health centers across the country. There is also training and technical assistance available for health centers seeking to establish such programs.
“Establishing PACE programs that are affordable and accessible to some of the most vulnerable persons in our communities, the elderly, will make a huge impact on the quality of life available to those folks,” said Jason Patnosh, Associate Vice President of Partnership and Resource Development at NACHC.
The most pivotal point in the expansion of PACE services is at the front end of the process. Getting these programs off the ground takes vast amounts of money, time, and personnel. In order to do this heavy lift health centers need to have a solid understanding of current and future finances, establish a workflow for coordinated care, and develop a system to provide this care to their patient population. The goal of the PACE at Community Health Centers project is to provide much needed support to health centers to help them explore PACE. Over the next year, NACHC and its partners hope to accomplish many things:
- Provide 2-4 high-level learning sessions via webinar or in-person to inform health centers on PACE programs
- Develop a learning curriculum to be used during a 2-day training for key health center leadership (CEO, CFO, Chief Clinical) that incorporates a visit with staff at a PACE site operated in a health center.
- Identify at least 100 health centers that fit the PACE requirements and invite them to participate in the initial pilot training.
- Offer a webinar directed at primary care associations to describe the program and recruit interest.