VA, Jewish system reach deal to keep vets at home


The Miami Jewish Health Systems and the VA announced a deal that is designed to control costs and keep patients living in their homes longer.

The Veterans and Miami Jewish health systems announced a partnership Friday to lower government costs in a way that many experts say is needed for the feds to avoid the approaching fiscal cliff.

The arrangement by the Miami Veterans Healthcare System is intended to keep aging vets out of expensive nursing homes and keep them living at home with the support of a coordinated care network provided by Miami Jewish Health Systems.

The cost difference: Instead of $80,000 a year for a nursing home, the Jewish system will provide care that will keep the vets living at home for not more than $30,000 a year.

Jeffrey Freimark, chief executive of the Jewish system, said the partnership is “absolutely” an example of new strategies that can help lower the nation’s healthcare costs, which are the highest in the world — almost twice as high per capita as most European countries.

“There’s no doubt this program is a triple win,” said Freimark because it cuts costs, provides better coordinated care and makes vets happy because they don’t have to abandon their homes.

The program is open to Miami area vets who qualify for Medicare and are classified as needing nursing home care. They will be enrolled in the Jewish system’s Florida Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE), which serves patients through centers in Northeast Miami and Hialeah. A third PACE center is scheduled to open early next year in the Westchester area.

Nurses will visit patients in their homes — and even doctors if necessary, said Cliff Bauer, the Jewish system’s executive director of community services. But most of the treatment focuses on vans transporting patients to the PACE centers. There, patients get primary care — with a full-time doctor, nurse practitioner, dietician and social worker. Rehabilitation, dental care and podiatry care are also available, along with adult day-care social activities.

Most patients go the centers about three times a week. “We believe very strongly in the need to continue socialization,” to keep the elderly active in mind and body, Bauer said.

The PACE model emphasizes the importance of a “medical home” that offers “highly coordinated care,” said Bauer. The Affordable Care Act emphasizes the need for such models as a way to avoid duplication of services and unnecessary care. Veterans will continue to see specialists at the VA Medical Center in Miami.

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