Senate’s Chronic Care Working Group releases policy proposals

Categories: Policy.

Just when you think you have everything wrapped up before the end of the year…*drop.* Yes, that’s the sound of the government–this time the Senate Finance Committee’s Chronic Care Working Group–crossing something off their to-do list before the end of the year.

Friday afternoon, the working group released a new report outlining policies under consideration as a part of the committee’s effort to improve how Medicare treats beneficiaries with multiple, complex chronic illnesses. According to the press release from the Senate Finance Committee, these policies address several key areas:

  • Providing high-quality health care in the home
  • Improving access to interdisciplinary, team-based health care
  • Expanding innovation in benefit design and access to technology
  • Identifying ways to improve payments and quality for the chronically ill population
  • Empowering patients and caregivers in care delivery

Since the working group’s inception in the spring of 2015, its members, held 80 meetings on chronic care, and received more than 500 comments from interested stakeholders. The current document is a result of these efforts.

So how does this report effect the hospice community? Included in the proposal is a policy recommendation to “carve-in” hospice to Medicare Advantage plans. This proposal is not new to NHPCO, HAN, or the hospice community. It has been discussed at meetings with congressional, MedPAC, and CMS staff. Why has this proposal now risen to the surface in this report? As the report notes,

Under current law, MA enrollees may elect to use hospice, but are either required to disenroll completely from MA or receive a combination of services from traditional Medicare and MA. Both of these options lead to either a disruption in care or fragmented care delivery.

Comments on all proposals are due January 26, 2016. If you’re concerned or uncertain about this proposal, don’t fret.  NHPCO is already taking active steps with CMS and key Members of Congress to address the community’s concerns about implementing such a policy. The request for comments is another part in a long process, one that NHPCO and HAN have been consistently engaged. Moreover, the Committee is not bound to take action on this or any of the proposals after the comment period.

If you or your organization would like to submit its own comments, NHPCO will be sharing templates for comments with the membership early next year. You can also learn more about the issue by visiting the HAN Medicare Advantage and Hospice page and reading our issue brief.

Also always, we will keep you posted as additional details emerge. And don’t hesitate to email us–we’re here to help!

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