Senate paper proposes strategies for complex, chronically ill Medicare patients

A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has released a paper outlining policy initiatives aimed at Medicare patients with multiple chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

In the paper, the Senate Finance Committee's Chronic Care Working Group breaks down numerous strategies for improving treatment of chronic conditions. Addressing patients with multiple chronic conditions is an essential step in developing meaningful preventive care, FierceHealthcare previously reported, and as healthcare moves toward a value-based care model, providers have increasingly phased out an episode-by-episode approach to such patients in favor of population health management.

The committee established the group in May to develop solutions to common problems among chronically ill Medicare beneficiaries. The proposals are divided into several categories, including:

  • Patient and caregiver empowerment during the care delivery
  • High-quality home care
  • Expanding benefit innovation and technology access
  • Expanding interdisciplinary, team-based care access
  • Population health management for chronically ill patients

Specific policy proposals include reducing care coordination barriers within accountable care organizations (ACOs), extending hospice benefits to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries and expanding home care models. The group also proposes giving Medicare Advantage and ACOs more flexibility to deliver essential non-health services for beneficiaries with multiple complex conditions.

"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," ‎Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), the working group's co-chair, said in a statement. "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."

To learn more:
- read the paper (.pdf)
- here's the announcement