Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., along with Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Mark Warner, D-Va., co-chairs of the Finance Committee Chronic Care Working Group, released an options paper outlining policies being considered as a part of the committee’s effort to improve how Medicare treats beneficiaries with multiple, complex chronic illnesses.
The paper organizes policies into several key areas under consideration:
- ·Providing high-quality health care in the home
- ·Improving access to interdisciplinary, team-based health care
- ·Expanding innovation in benefit design and access to technology
- ·Identifying ways to improve payments and quality for the chronically ill population
- ·Empowering patients and caregivers in care delivery
“Finding real solutions to something as complex and important as chronic care is a challenging task,”Hatch said. “Thankfully, with a firm bipartisan commitment and assistance from Ranking Member Wyden and fellow Committee Members Senators Johnny Isakson and Mark Warner, we were able to conduct thorough in-depth review of chronic care issues and produce a list of proposals meant to continue the conversation moving forward. And while there are no easy answers, I remain committed to finding budget neutral solutions that will provide better care for patients. Make no mistake, this will not be solved overnight. But it is my hope that with this document, we can take the next step in a thoughtful process to determine how to proceed moving forward.”
“The premier challenge facing Medicare is providing high-quality health care to seniors with multiple chronic illnesses such as diabetes, Alzheimer’s, and heart disease,” Wyden said. “This bipartisan set of policies take a strong step towards giving beneficiaries, providers, insurers and others the tools they need to make treating chronic conditions in Medicare less chaotic and fragmented. I thank Chairman Hatch and Senators Isakson and Warner for their diligent efforts to reach this important point in the process, and I am eager to continue working to ensure Americans with chronic diseases have a health care system that works for them.”
“We have made great progress this year and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to improve Medicare for people with chronic medical conditions,” Isakson said. “Our hope is to further develop some of the innovative approaches to care coordination so that seniors and people with disabilities can get better health care at a lower cost.”
“As our population ages and individuals are surviving acute illnesses to an extent previously unimaginable, one of the next big challenges for our nation’s healthcare system is how to effectively deliver care for Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions,” Warner said. “Given the fragmentation of the Medicare program, this won’t be an easy task, and won’t happen overnight. However, for the last eight months, I’ve worked with Chairman Hatch, Ranking Member Wyden, and Senator Isakson, as well as individuals throughout the Commonwealth, to develop bipartisan proposals that can begin this process. These proposals aren’t perfect, but they’ll move the ball forward, and I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues during this process.”
Policies in the options paper include allowing Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to tailor benefits specifically for chronically ill enrollees, adding additional tools for Accountable Care Organizations (ACO), making permanent the Independence at Home (IAH) demonstration program that helps primary care providers give high-quality care in the home, and giving greater flexibility to MA and ACOs to deliver non-health services that are pivotal for beneficiaries with multiple, complex chronic illnesses. The full working group options paper is attached and will be available online as soon as possible.
The paper comes as a part of a 7-month long process to explore and develop legislation to address the challenges facing beneficiaries with chronic conditions enrolled in Medicare. The committee launched the Chronic Care Working Group in May 2015 following the committee’s second hearing on chronic care, and proceeded to solicit comments on potential policy changes. The working group received 530 comments and conducted 80 stakeholder meetings to discuss ideas that improve the way care is delivered to Medicare beneficiaries with chronic diseases.
The senators are now requesting additional feedback on the proposals. Submissions can be sent to[email protected].