CHRONIC Care Act Gets Thumbs-Up from Senate Panel and CBO
May 19, 2017 03:10 PM
The Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2017 (S.870), got good reviews during a hearing of the Senate Finance Committee hearing earlier this week and a favorable nod from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) on May 16, 2017.
The main purpose of the CHRONIC Care Act, sponsoredby Sens. Ron Wyden (D-OR), Mark Warner (D-VA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), is to reduce Medicare costs by improving chronic disease management services and care coordination at home.
The committee voted 26-0 to support the CHRONIC Care Act and Senator Hatch vowed to “get this bill through” during his closing remarks.
The CHRONIC Care Act also got good news from the CBO, which is responsible for scoring legislation to determine whether or not it will add to the deficit. The CHRONIC Care Act would not add to the deficit, according to a preliminary cost estimate from the CBO.
The legislation would increase access to telehealth for Medicare patients with chronic illnesses and create incentives for patients to receive care via accountable care associations (ACOs). The bill would also extend the Independence at Home (IAH) demonstration to allow people to remain in their homes rather than in institutionalized settings. The Act would also permit reimbursement for more social services and non-health, and permanently extend the MA Special Needs plans that assist chronically ill patients.
Ranking member Ron Wyden (D-OR) noted during the hearing that seniors suffering from more than two chronic conditions simultaneously (such as heart disease and diabetes) account for more than 90 percent of Medicare spending. Reforming health care policy to better serve seniors with chronic illnesses is “premier challenge of American health policy.”
A major advantage of the CHRONIC Care Act, according to Wyden, is that it allows more care to be provided at home and with an emphasis on primary care and non-physician providers. Wyden also emphasized the need for people with chronic illnesses to have an advocate to help “guide them through what can be a teeth-gnashing experience of navigating American health care.”
Other important points made during the hearing include:
Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), Mark Warner (D-VA), and Brian Schatz (D-HI) all said Medicare is behind the times in note using more telehealth and remote patient monitoring, citing the opportunity to better serve patients will saving money;
Senator Wyden said providers are frustrated with the lack of guidance as to who to turn when trying to coordinate care for chronically ill patients;
Senator Pat Roberts (R-KS) cited medication as the most prevalent way chronic illnesses are treated and noted the CHRONIC Care Act directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to study the extent of which Medicare Part D and private payers use programs that synchronize pharmacy dispensing schedules, so that that individuals who are prescribed multiple drugs may receive their medications on the same day to facilitate counseling services and promote medication adherence;
Senator John Thune (R-SD) said the inclusion of a number of telehealth provisions found within the CONNECT for Health Act into the CHRONIC Care Act is a “step toward improving Medicare beneficiary access to timely and effective health care”;
Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) highlighted Section 102 of the CHRONIC Care Act, which expands access to home dialysis therapy, noting this would be particularly helpful in rural regions.
“This is a formal recognition that this package of services - the focus on care at home, the focus on new technology, the expanded role for primary care and prevention, which inevitably leads to more non-physician providers - is the beginning of our push to update the Medicare guarantee,” Senator Wyden told Medpage Today. “That's why it's transformative."
Wyden added that he believes the overwhelming show of support in the Senate for the CHRONIC Care Act will speed its passage in the House of Representatives, as well.
Stay tuned to NAHC Report for updates on this legislation.