Proposal: Medicare to Fund Caregiver Training

CMS Proposes that Medicare Pay Health Care Professionals to Train Caregivers

People suddenly facing a caregiving role can sometimes find a demanding and daunting routine, which many are technically and emotionally unprepared for. It’s a situation that can complicate a caregiver’s relationship with family members and impose a list of responsibilities that can prove overwhelming. But finding affordable, professional help can often be a bigger challenge.

What is CMS proposing?

Caregiver training teaches skills needed to care for older adults and disabled individuals, and those with other daily care needs. It’s typically a hands-on approach that includes lessons in safety and behavior management, as well as skills useful in working with families. Under the (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) CMS proposal, care models would include a social needs assessment and care navigation for people with certain conditions. 

Training gap

According to a Kaiser Family Foundation article,* six out of 10 family caregivers perform medical procedures such as tube feedings and injections, though less than 30% have received training. A 2020 AARP report** found that approximately 42 million Americans provided unpaid care for individuals age 50 and older, but only 7% had training. 

CMS, responding to an executive order, has proposed authorizing Medicare payments for health care professionals to train informal caregivers. Training would cover a range of tasks, including toileting, dressing, how to use medical equipment, and more. 

Under the CMS proposal:

  • Medicare will pay for social needs assessments and care plans for patients with certain conditions
  • Doctors, physician assistants, nurses, physical or occupational therapists, and other providers would be paid to deliver training
  • A special billing code would be created for payments to Medicare health care providers 
  • Training will take place on both an individual and group basis

Plans call for Medicare payments to begin in 2024, however, there are several points to work out. Who qualifies as a family caregiver? Will medical practices willingly take part? Could physicians outsource training to community health workers and community-based organizations such as adult day care centers? Should training be conducted in medical offices or in the home environment, where trainees would be applying what they learn?  

Acclaim and support

Each year, approximately 53 million Americans provide help that aids the health and quality of life of someone important to them. The CMS/Medicare training proposal has received acclaim for the support it will provide groups who are most affected. Caregiving can take a serious toll on one’s physical and emotional health and create financial problems, particularly for women, who make up nearly two-thirds of all caregivers and often feel the consequences of caregiving most acutely. 

How will paid training help?

The paid training program will benefit older adults who require long-term care from trained family members. Ongoing support from Washington will also benefit caregivers who struggle with burdensome workloads and help prevent burnout. Well-coordinated, integrated care will be available for people suffering from dementia and allow people with chronic conditions to live at home longer. 

* Graham, Judith. KFF Health News, A New Training Proposal Would Cover Training for Family Caregivers, Aug. 18, 2023.

** Caregiving in the United States 2020, AARP, May 14, 2020.*** HHS Delivers first national strategy to support family caregivers. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, Sept. 1, 2022.

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