The Senate Finance Committee took major steps this week towards advancing the CHRONIC Care Act of 2017 (S. 870), which seeks to modernize Medicare to improve the management of chronic disease, streamline care coordination, and improve quality outcomes. On Thursday, the Committee held a markup of the bill where it was advanced with strong bipartisan support. The bill can now go before the full Senate for consideration.
Earlier this week, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the bill and ways to improve how Medicare treats patients with chronic diseases. In addition to a panel of experts, the hearing featured testimony from Senator Schatz (D-HI) and Senator Wicker (R-MS), who spoke about their own telehealth legislation, the CONNECT for Health Act (S. 1016), parts of which were included in the CHRONIC Care Act. While the hearing focused on the comprehensive bill, much of the discussion centered around the benefits of telehealth and how technology can be better utilized under Medicare. Following the hearing, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released their preliminary estimate on the bill’s impact on federal spending. While the bill as a whole received an overall score of zero, CBO estimated that the four telehealth provisions included in the CHRONIC Care Act would increase federal spending by $150 million over the next ten years.
The CHRONIC Care Act was developed by the bipartisan Senate Finance Committee Chronic Care Working Group in the 114th Congress and was reintroduced on April 6th. HIMSS provided input to the working group on several occasions over the course of the bill’s development, including in response to the release of a policy options document in January 2016.