The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is launching a program to consider social and behavioral needs of beneficiaries, and some are reacting with concern.
The five-year program, called the Accountable Health Communities Model, is the first Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Innovation Center model to focus on the health-related social needs of Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries, including building alignment between clinical and community-based services at the local level.
A total of $157 million in funding will be available.
According to CMS, the goal of this model is that beneficiaries struggling with unmet health-related social needs are aware of the community-based services available to them and receive assistance accessing those services.
Twila Brase, R.N. and president of Citizens' Council for Health Freedom, says she's concerned that the federal government is using taxpayers' money to "screen" elderly Americans.
"And they're going to screen them for what they call specific social-risk factors," says Brase. "Well, what are those? And what that does that mean is going to end up in your record? Then you're going to be referred to their social services as though you have a need, which you may not want or think that you have a need."
It's one thing for a patient to share something with a doctor, Brase observes, but to have a federal program that explores the social and private lives of individuals outside the system is another issue entirely.
"That's not where the government should be going," she says.