Officials from the first Medicare-sponsored Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) in New Jersey met with Rep. Chris Smith (NJ-04) earlier this week to provide an update on the program and thank him for his leadership in helping to bring PACE to our state and ensuring that these vital healthcare services remain available for the elderly and disabled in our area.
The PACE site, located on the Hamilton-Trenton border and serving residents of all of Mercer County and portions of northern Burlington County, is run by St. Francis Medical Center as LIFE, or Living Independently for Elders.
“LIFE can provide a possible option for seniors,” said Smith. “Many seniors would be much happier in their own home rather than going to a convalescent setting. Living at home – with ready access to a care center - can foster independence, greater freedoms, and wider range of activities.”
A three-way agreement with the New Jersey Department of Health and Senior Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) was activated in 2009 and today serves nearly 200 seniors. There are now three other PACE locations in New Jersey—Camden, Vineland and Jersey City—and others are likely to become available.
Congressmen Smith has worked with officials from St. Francis since 2007 to assist the hospital in joining the federal program that enables nursing home-eligible seniors to obtain all inclusive care, without moving into a nursing home facility. PACE is funded through Medicare and Medicaid with over 90 such centers established throughout the country. Smith voted to create the program in 1997.
A team of doctors, nurses, physical therapists and other health experts, the LIFE program manages all the care of the patient for a set fee paid by Medicare and Medicaid, but also assumes full risk for whatever care is necessary. Patients can be brought into the center during the week for continuous monitoring. The center will also provide meals and recreation. Most importantly, members of the LIFE team will provide health care at the person’s home, including meals-to-go.
St. Francis’ current LIFE facility can accommodate around 250 seniors. St. Francis and other N.J. PACE/LIFE providers hope to open new facilities to help meet the exploding need. Candidates must meet four main criteria. They must: be age 55 and up; live in the hospital’s service area; require a nursing home level of care, and; be physically able to live safely in their home.
For more information about PACE, visit the National PACE Association’s website at www.npaonline.org or its fact sheet about the program, or the Medicare website at http://www.cms.hhs.gov/PACE/.