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New Bipartisan Medicare Bill Will Help Elderly, Low-Income, Chronically Ill Patients

July 10, 2017

As the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee continues efforts to improve Medicare for our seniors, Chairman Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Ranking Member Sander Levin (D-MI) last week introduced legislation (H.R. 3168) to reauthorize Medicare Special Needs Plans (SNPs), one of several important programs in need of reauthorization before the end of the year. The legislation follows the Health Subcommittee’s hearing last month on strengthening SNPs and other programs designed to lower costs, improve quality, and increase access to health care for elderly patients living in poverty or with a chronic illness.

Upon introducing the legislation, Rep. Tiberi said:

“SNPs offer targeted, coordinated care to some of the frailest and sickest beneficiaries in the Medicare program. Our bipartisan legislation will provide the certainty these patients need to access the quality care they rely on over the long term. While Congress has routinely reauthorized SNPs every two to three years, this legislation puts the SNP program on a stronger and more permanent path.”

And Rep. Levin added:

“Special Needs Plans aim to improve care for certain Medicare beneficiaries, including those who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, as well as other vulnerable groups. This legislation follows a number of recommendations from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission to extend and reform these plans with the goal of coordinating care and improving quality for special needs populations.”

Praising Reps. Tiberi and Levin for leading this effort to help patients who require costlier and more coordinated care, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) said:

“This important legislation is another example of our bipartisan action to make targeted, immediate improvements to the Medicare program. I look forward to working with Chairman Tiberi and Ranking Member Levin to extend and strengthen programs like SNP that make Medicare more efficient – not only by improving care for beneficiaries, but also by reducing costs for taxpayers.”  

H.R. 3168:

  • Provides certainty to Medicare beneficiaries living in nursing homes by permanently reauthorizing Institutional SNPs (I-SNPs) for the first time.
  • Delivers peace of mind to Medicare beneficiaries who are dually enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid, as well as beneficiaries living with chronic conditions by extending Dual-Eligible SNPs (D-SNPs) and Chronic Condition-SNPs (C-SNPs) for five years – the longest extension since SNPs were first created.
  • Makes it easier for dual-eligible beneficiaries to manage their medical and financial responsibilities by streamlining Medicare and Medicaid benefits through one integrated process – as recommended by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission.
  • Strengthens access to meaningful supplemental benefits for patients with chronic illnesses – a bipartisan proposal introduced by Reps. Pat Meehan (R-PA) and Terri Sewell (D-AL).
  • Increases transparency by directing the Health and Human Services Secretary to examine ways to collect and evaluate quality data at the more granular plan level rather than the broader contract level.
  • Focuses on improving outcomes by requiring the Government Accountability Office to conduct three studies: a comparison of health outcomes in SNPs and traditional Medicare Advantage plans, a review of integration efforts for D-SNPs, and a study of the supplemental benefits offered by SNPs and Medicare Advantage Plans.

CLICK HERE to read H.R. 3168.