The Senate Finance Committee May 18 approved, 26-0, the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2017 (S. 870). The bill will now move to the full Senate floor for consideration. The committee adopted an amendment introduced by Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) that will provide Medicare Part D prescription drug plans with Parts A and B claims data to promote the appropriate use of medications and improve health outcomes.
The legislation includes important provisions that will streamline Medicare’s payment system to incentivize the appropriate level of care, increase care coordination among individual providers across care settings who are treating individuals living with chronic illnesses, and facilitate the delivery of high quality care.
In a letter to the Senate Finance Committee, the AAMC praised the committee’s recognition of the importance of advancing team-based care, expanding innovation and technology, and identifying the chronically ill population to ensure better care.
Earlier in the week, Senators Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) May 16 held a hearing titled Examining Bipartisan Medicare Policies that Improve Care for Patients with Chronic Conditions. The hearing focused largely on the bipartisan CHRONIC Care Act. The legislation, introduced by the co-chairs of the Chronic Care Working Group, Senators Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.), focuses on improving Medicare policies for seniors suffering from one or more chronic conditions.
Testifying witnesses included Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) in panel one, and Katherine Hayes, JD, director of health policy, Bipartisan Policy Center; Lee H. Schwamm, MD, on behalf of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association; John G. Lovelace, president of Government Programs and Individual Advantage, UPMC Insurance Services Division; and Stephen Rosenthal, senior vice president, Montefiore Health System.
Chairman Hatch opened the hearing by praising the deliberate, bipartisan approach taken by the committee, stating “After two years of meeting with and receiving input from stakeholders in the healthcare community, including 850 formally submitted comments, the release of multiple public proposals and outlines, and good-faith negotiations, we have arrived to where we are today. The CHRONIC Care Act currently has 18 bipartisan cosponsors, with 16 sitting on this committee. The bill includes a number of policies that will improve care for the chronically ill through increased use of telehealth, including by giving Medicare Advantage plans and certain Accountable Care Organizations enhanced flexibility to target telehealth services to Medicare patients with chronic conditions. The bill also goes beyond telehealth by making improvements for beneficiaries who receive care across the Medicare spectrum, including fee-for-service, Accountable Care Organizations, and Medicare Advantage. These are all important changes that will address the growing need to tailor treatments to those with chronic conditions.”
Senator Wyden also lauded the provisions of the bill that will help those seniors living with chronic conditions. He stated, “The CHRONIC Care Act will mean more care at home and less in institutions. It’ll expand the use of life-saving technology. It places a stronger focus on primary care. It gives seniors, however they get Medicare, more tools and options to receive care specifically targeted to address their chronic illnesses and keep them healthy. Those are all important steps forward in updating the Medicare guarantee. Still to come is ensuring that every senior with multiple chronic conditions has an advocate to help them navigate through the Byzantine health care system.”