Better Medicare For Those With Chronic Disease – Forbes
The Senate has quietly and unanimously passed a bill that would improve some Medicare benefits for people with chronic disease. The measure would do many good things but the most important is this: It would take important steps toward breaking down the wall between medical treatment and non-medical supports and services in Medicare, beginning a process that would make it much easier for frail seniors to receive the right care when they need it.
The bipartisan measure, called the called the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic Care (CHRONIC) Act of 2017, was sponsored by Senate Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and top committee Democrat Ron Wyden (D-OR) as well as panel members Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and John Warner (D-VA). It would give Medicare managed care plans new flexibility to better organize care and provide non-medical supports and services. It would also expand a temporary program aimed at providing team-based care at home for people with complex medical conditions, and increase the use of telehealth services.
Medicare does not pay
Today, with a few narrow exceptions, Medicare does not pay for long-term supports and services such as home health aides, home modifications, rides to the doctor and the like. It provides limited home health services only after someone has been hospitalized for three days, and only a short period of time.
While many consumers believe Medicare does provide these long-term benefits, it generally does not. As a result, a frail senior or a younger person with disabilities must navigate multiple systems and payers to assemble the care they need. It is a nightmare. Millions of people fall through the cracks. Some die as a result.
Medicaid does pay for some of these services, but only if you are very frail and impoverished. A middle-income person who has say, diabetes and congestive heart failure, is on her own.
The bill would open the door to important new Medicare supports and services, but only for those in managed care.