Press Releases
February 6, 2018

Better Medicare Alliance Calls on Congress to Approve Chronic Care Act in Stopgap Measure

Today Better Medicare Alliance (BMA), the leading advocacy coalition of over 100 organizations and 300,000 senior advocates in support of Medicare Advantage urged Congress to approve key Medicare Advantage provisions in the Continuing Appropriations Act, HR 1892.

HR 1892, a stopgap measure introduced today to prevent a government shutdown, includes provisions from the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act – legislation approved by the U.S. Senate last September – that would strengthen Medicare Advantage’s role in improving health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries with complex medical conditions.

“We are proud to have worked with lawmakers over the past couple of years to advance a broad range of policies to bolster Medicare Advantage’s proven successes in providing preventive services and coordinated care, chronic disease management, and pioneering value-based models of care. Specifically, we support provisions in the spending bill that include the CHRONIC Care Act and would permanently authorize Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans (SNPs),” said Allyson Y. Schwartz, BMA President and CEO.

BMA supports the following key provisions in HR 1892:

Permanently Extending Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans (SNPs) (Sec. 2121): SNPs enable improved team-based care by coordinating benefits for dual-eligible, chronically ill, and institutionalized beneficiaries. Some policy changes are proposed to the SNP program, such as requiring greater coordination for chronically ill enrollees and dual-eligible beneficiaries. Current SNP authorization expires December 31, 2018.

Expanding Supplemental Benefits in Medicare Advantage (Sec. 2312): The bill would give Medicare Advantage plans greater flexibility to offer a wider array of supplemental benefits (using rebate dollars) to address chronic conditions. This would expand allowable services offered as supplemental benefits by Medicare Advantage plans from those that are considered primarily health related, to include other services that can help address chronic illnesses, such as healthy meals and transportation to medical appointments.

Increasing Telemedicine Benefits in Medicare Advantage (Sec. 2313): The bill would allow a Medicare Advantage plan to offer additional, clinically appropriate telemedicine benefits in the annual bid, above and beyond the services currently reimbursed under Medicare Part B. Currently, Medicare Advantage is constrained to a limited number of telemedicine services included in Traditional Fee-For-Service Medicare and is not able to include other innovative telemedicine services in bids. Medicare Advantage plans can choose to provide additional telemedicine benefits via supplemental benefits (using rebate dollars) with CMS approval.

Expanding the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Model to all states (Sec. 2311): The VBID model allows Medicare Advantage plans to offer supplemental benefits or reduced cost sharing to enrollees with specified chronic conditions, focused on the services that are of highest clinical value to them. The model tests whether V-BID models improve health outcomes and lower expenditures for Medicare Advantage enrollees.

For the past six months, BMA has led advocacy efforts in the Beltway in support of the CHRONIC Care Act and permanent authorization of SNPs. BMA led a coalition letter of 13 organizations in support of permanent authorization of SNPs and launched a two-month grassroots advocacy campaign including a Chronic Care Taskforce comprised of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries with complex conditions. Over 1,300 BMA senior advocates signed a petition and sent letters calling for Congress to permanently reauthorize SNPs.

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