Medicare to test if seamless social work can improve health

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Doctors and community workers have long recognized a link between the hardships of poverty and health problems.

Now the government is launching an experiment to see if seamless social work can improve the health of vulnerable Medicare and Medicaid recipients, and perhaps even lower costs by heading off emergency room visits.

The Department of Health and Human Services announced Tuesday a five-year, $157 million grant program for as many as 44 organizations that will work to link patients with social services they may need, be that housing, transportation, meals on wheels, or counseling for domestic abuse.

The government is calling it “Accountable Health Communities.” If the experiment shows promise, it could be expanded nationwide.

The legal authority for the experiment comes from President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Copyright Associated Press

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