Scott LaRue

Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) are growing, especially as more seniors seek to stay home. Many of these PACE programs are finding new ways to serve their population through partnerships with other providers.

ArchCare is the health care ministry for the Archdiocese of New York; it includes more than 2,000 skilled nursing beds, two hospitals, and a community arm. Its primary mission is focused on senior living and care for individuals who need assistance either in a community or through an institutional program. 

ArchCare's PACE program recently entered into two partnerships—with Ride Health and the Montefiore Health System—to expand services for its clients. Scott LaRue, president and CEO of ArchCare, recently sat down with HomeCare to discuss the partnerships and what’s next.

HOMECARE: What sparked the partnership with Ride Health? How are you hoping to better provide for seniors and others with this service?
LARUE: So, as you know, a PACE program is a fully integrated Medicaid/Medicare program that provides all of the services for an individual who would otherwise qualify for placement in a nursing home. An important part of those services is transportation services to get them to and from appointments, daycare, etc. The No. 1 satisfaction complaint that we had was transportation services. We were fortunate to become aware of Ride Health and form this partnership with them, which allows us to schedule transportation for our participants just like you would with an Uber on an app ... based on the clinical needs of the individual and the appropriate level of transportation, whether it's a car service, an ambulance or a gurney. It has really improved the service. That's reduced our complaints and our costs.

HC: Who can arrange a ride for a senior through Ride Health? Can family caregivers accompany their loved ones to medical visits using the service?
LARUE: Family caregivers can accompany their loved ones to a medical visit. We have a transportation coordinator for each PACE center, and they coordinate the transportation with the family and the provider. They'll put in the request for transportation, and it goes out into the software, just like with Uber, and the closest, most available provider picks up the participant. Ride Health contracts with a variety of on-demand providers who are trained to work with PACE participants.

HC: Have you seen a growth in your PACE program enrollment during the pandemic?
LARUE: We have. We're seeing a spike in our enrollment in the PACE program. There's been a tremendous shift in consumer demand from institutionally based services to home- and community-based services, exacerbated by that desire to remain in the community. And PACE is the perfect solution to do that.

HC: What about the partnership you announced recently with Montefiore Health System? How is that going to benefit your pace members?
LARUE: Yeah, that's an exciting partnership. One of the challenges with the PACE program has been the capital requirements to build the centers to allow for expansion and growth. With the PACE Innovation Act, (the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) has provided more flexibility in terms of how you contract with physicians and also in terms of the necessity of building new infrastructure. With the Montefiore program, we're able to contract with their entire network of providers and also utilize their clinic instead of building our own under a traditional PACE model.

And normally, a physician is an employed physician of the PACE program in the monthly models. They will not be employed by the PACE program, but we'll be coordinating patient care with the physicians at Montefiore.

HC: What’s next for ArchCare Senior Life (PACE)?
LARUE: Given what we've learned from the pandemic and the evolving expectations by the people we serve, we're very focused on continuing to build out our home- and community-based services, primarily through the expansion of PACE and our homecare agency. We have a homecare agency that serves 11 counties. We've been providing the care to individuals with COVID throughout the pandemic. And we find a lot of individuals are skipping the SNF and going straight home for our rehab services. And our homecare agency is a perfect opportunity to provide those.

There's been a lot of discussions about alternatives to nursing homes throughout this pandemic, especially given the mortality rates in the nursing homes and people seem to be seeking a solution to that. And PACE is the solution. It's just not well-known enough. And I think we need to focus more on a program that we already have proven is successful and put the resources into it necessary for it to be a meaningful alternative across the country for people who want to remain at home instead of in an institution.