Senate Passes CHRONIC Care Act
This week, the Senate unanimously passed the CHRONIC Care Act (S.870), a bill which includes bipartisan policies to improve the Medicare program by targeting traditional fee-for-service, Medicare Advantage, and Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). Specifically, the bill:
- Expands Independence at Home program.
- Improves flexibility and predictability of Medicare Advantage to better serve chronically ill beneficiaries.
- Established a program allowing certain ACOs to use their own money to help assigned patients afford important primary care services needed to manage the individuals chronic condition.
- Gives certain ACOs the option to have beneficiaries assigned prospectively (at the beginning of a performance year) rather than retrospectively. The goal is to provide these ACOs increased financial predictability and certainty along with the flexibility to target needed services to individuals living with chronic conditions.
- Allows Medicare Advantage plans to include additional telehealth services in its bid and gives certain ACOs more flexibility to provide telehealth services.
Last year, the Senate Finance Committee convened a Chronic Care Working Group which released a paper of policies they were considering to improve how Medicare treats beneficiaries with multiple chronic illnesses which lead to this legislation. The Society submitted comments to the work group and supported provisions to expand the use of telehealth in non-rural, non-underserved areas, changes to attribution methodology under the current ACO models, and use of health information technology (HIT) to improve communication and information sharing to improve the quality of care for chronic care patients in care transitions.