September 27, 2017

Senate Passes Wyden’s CHRONIC Care Act

Bill also extends senator’s proven Independence at Home Program

WASHINGTON — U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) said Wednesday he welcomed the Senate’s unanimous passage this week of a bipartisan bill aimed at strengthening and improving health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries living with chronic conditions.

The Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act of 2017 would help tens of thousands of Oregonian seniors and millions of Americans by coordinating their care so it’s both more effective and cost-efficient.

“This bill marks an important step towards updating and strengthening Medicare’s guarantee of comprehensive health benefits for seniors,” said Wyden, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee.

“Medicare policy cannot stand idly by while the needs of people in the program shift to managing multiple costly chronic diseases,” Wyden said. “This bill provides new options and tools for seniors and their doctors to coordinate care and makes it less burdensome to stay healthy.”
The bill that passed the Senate on Tuesday was co-sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), as well as Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.)

The bill also included a two-year extension and expansion of the Independence At Home (IAH) program. That program brings high-quality care to patients suffering from multiple debilitating chronic illnesses while lowering Medicare costs by empowering teams of doctors and other health care professionals to coordinate and provide primary care services in patients’ homes, reducing unnecessary emergency room visits, avoidable hospitalizations, and hospital readmissions.

Wyden and Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) are the original co-authors of the IAH program, which began in 2012.

“Independence at Home is all about helping seniors who want to stay at home do so while receiving high-quality health care for their complex chronic illnesses,” Wyden said. “The CHRONIC Care Act’s extension and expansion of Independence at Home is an important step towards demonstrating this approach works for seniors while bringing down health care costs.

“I’m especially pleased that this extension will allow Housecall Providers in Oregon to continue leading the way on innovative home-based health care,” he said. “I will continue working to get this critical extension of Independence at Home to the president’s desk.”

The CHRONIC Care Act now goes to the House of Representatives, where similar policies have been considered.