Finally, Congress is looking at Medicare for the chronically ill

Congressional lawmakers on both sides of the aisle are looking at improving Medicare. Believe it or not, there is a bipartisan bill in executive session that would help some Medicare providers better care for people with chronic illnesses.

The Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2017 wouldn’t expand Medicare, however, it would allow providers more flexibility in the way they help people with such conditions, who make up the government program’s most expensive and most necessary recipients. The bill is a major step by leaders who until now had not considered that people with chronic conditions may require services that Medicare does not now offer.

The bill’s sponsors are Sens. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), Ron Wyden (D-OR),  Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and John Warner (D-VA).

Forbes outlines the bill’s mission well.
“CHRONIC would expand the use of telehealth, extend and expand a home-based medical practice experiment called Independence at Home, and improve the Medicare appeals process for people in risk-based insurance plans such as Special Needs Plans (SNPs). But the biggest changes would apply to the care provided by managed care programs.

One would expand the use of those special needs plans, which are explicitly aimed at people with chronic conditions and high medical needs. Some of these programs already provide supports and services as part of their benefit packages but they remain relatively small.

The other would give Medicare Advantage plans important new flexibility to offer social supports and other non-medical services to their members. About one-third of Medicare enrollees are in MA plans.”

Right now, Medicare provides the same services to everyone, regardless of their level of health. As the Forbes article notes, “fitness benefits are OK, but home-delivered meals or medical transportation are not. For many older adults with chronic conditions, a ride to the doctor or a hot meal to stave off malnutrition are crucial to their well-being.”

Medicare is, as always, an important issue for those over the age of 65. It’s even more pressing for men and women who suffer from chronic conditions and need Medicare to live productive and healthy lives.


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