Congressman Erik Paulsen (MN-03) and Congressman Peter Welch (VT-AL) have introduced legislation to improve care coordination for Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions. The Better Care, Lower Cost Act would establish voluntary programs aimed at reducing expensive hospital readmissions and providing better health outcomes for patients. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, 68% of Medicare enrollees suffer from multiple chronic conditions and account for 93% of health care costs.
"It's time to bring our health care system into the 21st century and embrace reforms that will deliver better care at lower costs to patients," said Paulsen. "With chronic conditions driving the majority of costs in Medicare, our focus should be on improving coordinated care and patient outcomes. Advancements in the medical field, like telemedicine, can help us achieve our goals by bringing the best chronic care management to all corners of the country."
"It is essential that we do a better job coordinating health care services for seniors suffering from chronic conditions," Welch said. "In today's system, seniors must navigate a maze of health care providers on their own. Our bill, based on Vermont's successful Blueprint for Health, will encourage providers to coordinate care and reward them for achieving healthy outcomes rather than the number of services they provide. It's a common sense solution that is long overdue."
"With the Better Care, Lower Cost Act, Representatives Welch and Paulsen are offering a solution commensurate with the challenges posed by chronic disease to Medicare's future. Their bill would establish a Better Care Program offering traditional Medicare enrollees facing multiple chronic conditions the option to receive care tailored to their needs and preferences and delivered by collaborative teams of health care professionals. Not only do these seniors and the disabled Americans deserve this sort of well-coordinated care, but Medicare's long-term financial trajectory could depend on their getting it. The original introduction of the Better Care, Lower Cost Act helped spark the ongoing Chronic Care Working Group effort in the Senate. We hope today's reintroduction spurs additional attention to chronic disease on the House side as well," said John Rother, President and CEO of the National Coalition on Health Care.
The legislation integrates several services under Medicare to allow providers to deliver better, comprehensive care at a lower cost. Currently, federal rules and practices inhibit providers from specializing in chronic care and also prohibits them from targeting higher-risk patients that would benefit the most from coordinated care. The voluntary program would be open to Medicare beneficiaries with two or more chronic illnesses that choose to participate and would reimburse health plans and providers based on health outcomes.
In addition, the bill encourages the expansion of new technology, such as telemedicine, to deliver better care to patients.