By Kristin Rowan, Editor

Federal Waiver Program

In 2020, CMS launched a hospital care at home program to help increase patient capacity during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic. The study included 300 hospitals and thousands of patients receiving care in their home using a hospital at home waiver. Outcomes of the study showed that patients had greater ability to stand up and move around at home than would have had in a hospital and that in-home caregivers were better able to educate patients on home to care for themselves once they were able to see the social determinants of care in the home. CMS also reports only 7.2% of patients were required to be transferred to a hospital.

Hospital Study

Mass General Brigham conducted its own study alongside CMS and analyzing outcomes of diverse patients, including socially vulnerable and medically complex patients. The findings of their national analysis showed that within 30 days of discharge, 2.6% of patients used a SNF, 3.2% died, and 15.6% were readmitted. Findings were consistent among all groups, including those who generally have worse outcomes: patients of Black and Latine race and ethnicity, dual-eligible patients, and patients with disabilities.

Health System Study

In April of 2020, Kaiser Permanente conducted an 18-month study on the scalability of “Advanced Care at Home” (ACAH). The patients all required hospital-level care and were first admitted to the program through the emergency department. Some were admitted to the hospital, and some were instead admitted to the Kaiser ACAH program, where a team of nurses, physicians, nurse practitioners, and a pharmacist developed a care plan.

This study increased its daily census from 7.2 per day to 12.7 per day at the end of study. The average episode of care decreased from 7.43 days to 5.46 days and readmission rates dropped from 11.52 percent to 9.24 percent. These patients were less likely to experience delirium than patients admitted to traditional hospital settings. The researchers noted the limitation of the study as being too small to develop precise comparisons.

Limitations of Acute Hospital Care at Home

Currently, the only patients eligible for AHCaH are those who have been evaluated in a hospital or emergency department. Kaiser has extended this to patients seen in their own urgent care offices in areas where they don’t own a hospital. Kaiser has served a few thousand patients through this program, but they estimate there are more than 1.1 million eligible patients. Rural patients who don’t live near a hospital or emergency department have the same trouble accessing AHCaH that they do accessing hospital and physician care now.

The CMS waiver for AHCaH has been extended through December 2024. Beyond that, it is unclear how hospital care at home will be reimbursed. Some providers have offered hospital care at home to risk-based patients in a VBC model. Not all eligible patients will qualify for the waiver or VBC reimbursement. Without specific provisions from CMS to reimburse hospital care at home for all Medicare and Medicaid patients and coverage from private insurance, the hospital at home program will remain limited.

The current model for AHCaH includes technology support for the patient using a tablet, smartphone, or other device. This requires that the patient have a broadband internet connection in the home, which eliminates eligibility for rural patients who are already underserved.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot of support for Hospital Care at Home among providers, health systems, and consumer insurance companies. Support for home health, hospice, palliative care, and supportive home care has not been as strong. As these larger players start to see the cost and outcome benefits of care in the home, a few things may happen.

First, hospitals, payers, and physician groups may start to recognize the value of care at home and be more open to creating referral partnerships with care at home agencies. Home care is a small percentage of total care reimbursed by Medicare and Medicaid and we could see that increase.

Conversely, these providers may realize that care at home is lucrative and will extend their own AHCaH models to include post-acute and hospice care, cutting out home care agencies altogether. Care teams are constructed around a Hospital Care at Home patient. Including a post-acute nurse who is familiar with the patient history would provide additional continuity of care.

Either way, I see the support for the Hospital Care at Home program as beneficial to home health. Branches of health care that were previously averse to extending patient care into the home are now supporting it. Increased adoption of telehealth and other technology platforms increase the possibilities for integrating with home health and hospice providers. Interoperability between Hospital Care at Home and Post-Acute Care at Home may finally become a reality.

We will continue to report on the AHCaH waiver as the deadline to renew comes closer.

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Kristin Rowan

Kristin Rowan has been working at Healthcare at Home: The Rowan Report since 2008. She has a master’s degree in business administration and marketing and runs Girard Marketing Group, a multi-faceted boutique marketing firm specializing in event planning, sales, and marketing strategy. She has recently taken on the role of Editor of The Rowan Report and will add her voice to current Home Care topics as well as marketing tips for home care agencies. Connect with Kristin directly or

©2024 by The Rowan Report, Peoria, AZ. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Healthcare at Home: The Rowan One copy may be printed for personal use: further reproduction by permission only.


CMS (2024) Acute Hospital Care at Home Data Release Fact Sheet. Retrieved from:,inpatient%2Dlevel%20care%20at%20home.

Mass General Brigham (2024) Study of National Data Demonstrates the Value of Acute Hospital Care at Home. Retrieved from:,and%20have%20fewer%20adverse%20events.%E2%80%9D

mHealth Intelligence (2023) Kaiser Permanente Study Shows Scalability of Hospital-at-Home model