I read with interest your May 7 article “Dual costs” and was delighted that you noted the Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly, or PACE, as a shining example of a healthcare model that has done an outstanding job of focusing on dual-eligibles. With its origins at On Lok in San Francisco 40 years ago, PACE has grown to become the gold standard for senior care in the nation.
I was concerned, however, with the article's positioning of PACE with regard to cost and whether the care provided to the frail elderly is worth the expense. On Lok's 40 years of experience in treating this challenging population, “the frailest, most medically complex … in our healthcare system,” has taught us how to be effective and efficient when caring for and improving the lives of these particularly vulnerable individuals. The success of the many PACE organizations throughout the country is a key reason why the government is basing so many of its plans for dual-eligibles on PACE's integrated-care model.
According to an HHS study in 2009, PACE had a higher quality of care and better outcomes than counterparts in other care settings, a conclusion that is also found in Harvard professor David Grabowski's 2008 study. Quality is demonstrated in participants' improved mental and physical health status as well as in their own reports of being happier, healthier and more independent. Also, both caregivers and participants consistently rate PACE high in satisfaction.
PACE providers are responsible for all care throughout a participant's life and are incentivized to keep them healthy and out of high-cost care settings. Our geriatric expertise, close monitoring of health conditions, personalized attention by a care team of professionals, and proactive, early interventions all reduce the need for hospitalization, emergency room visits and more costly nursing home care.
Quite simply, PACE is a proven model of care that helps to make our participants' lives better, and we are very proud of the extremely high value we offer to frail seniors and their caregivers.
CEOOn Lok San Francisco