CMS tightens requirements for PACE caregivers

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The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has released a rule that requires stricter qualifications for staff taking part in Programs of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE).

Any caregivers in the PACE program must have "knowledge of geriatric practices and skill to work with these individuals," according to the CMS rule. PACE is designed to keep Medicare beneficiaries out of nursing homes. It serves people who are 55 and older, eligible for nursing home care under state law, and live in a PACE service area.

The rule stipulates that staff who have direct contact with the elderly enrollees of PACE must have a minimum of one year of experience working with the frail or elderly population. They also must meet standardized competencies, be medically clear of communicable diseases and be current with immunizations.

The final rule was published Dec. 8 in the Federal Register and will become effective Jan. 8, 2007.