NHPRI to add companionship, food and exercise benefits to Medicare-Medicaid plan in 2022

SMITHFIELD – Members of Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island’s INTEGRITY Medicare-Medicaid plan will see new benefits in 2022, including a service that offers companionship and help at home.

Papa Pals connects vulnerable people with companions who spend time with them, assist with household chores and electronic devices, and help with transportation and exercise.

The INTEGRITY plan’s roughly 13,000 members will have access to the service next year, along with home-delivered meals from Mom’s Meals after surgery or hospitalization, a monthly allowance to buy healthy foods and a gym membership at six YMCA of Greater Providence branches.

“Access to fitness activities, healthy food and social stimulation is integral to improving overall health,” said Dr. Christopher Ottiano, Neighborhood Health medical director. “Neighborhood is excited to continue finding ways, like these supplemental benefits, to reduce barriers our members face to improve their health and well-being. INTEGRITY members in particular are among our most medically fragile members, as they are typically older individuals or adults with disabilities who have a wide range of health care needs and are often economically disadvantaged.”

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INTEGRITY members can spend up to 120 hours per year with multilingual companions from Papa Pals. Neighborhood Health added the benefit after working with Algorex Health, an applied data science firm, to find that INTEGRITY members are more than twice as likely to be socially isolated than members of its other plans.

“Using this kind of data gives us the clinical insights we need to determine appropriate interventions that will improve health outcomes,” Ottiano said. “In this case, we know a group of our members has a high incidence of social isolation, and that studies show social isolation is associated with about a 50% increased risk of dementia and other serious medical conditions.”

Elizabeth Graham is a PBN contributing writer.

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