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Senators unveil bipartisan Medicare reforms

Senators unveil bipartisan Medicare reforms
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A bipartisan group of senators on Thursday released a draft of legislation aimed at making Medicare more efficient and saving money in the long run. 

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The proposal is the product of months of work by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchPress: Forget bipartisanship — it's dead! Privatization of foster care has been a disaster for children Remembering Ted Kennedy highlights decline of the Senate MORE (R-Utah) and the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenSchumer on 4/20: Bill coming to end federal marijuana prohibition GOP senator: Raising corporate taxes is a 'non-starter' Democrats get good news from IRS MORE (Ore.), as well as Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerLawmakers react to guilty verdict in Chauvin murder trial: 'Our work is far from done' Manchin throws support behind union-backed PRO Act New US sanctions further chill Biden-Putin relations MORE (D-Va.) and Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonLoeffler group targets Democrats with billboards around baseball stadium Warnock raises nearly M since January victory Five big takeaways on Georgia's new election law MORE (R-Ga.).

The bill, referred to as the Chronic Care Act, would expand or create a range of Medicare programs to make treatment of chronic conditions such as heart disease and diabetes more coordinated and cost-efficient. 

“Addressing chronic care in the Medicare program with reforms that improve outcomes for patients and save taxpayer dollars is a bipartisan goal, and I am proud that after a year and a half’s worth of work, the Finance Committee Chronic Care Working Group was able to unite around a set of reforms and recommendations to advance the conversation,” Hatch said in a statement.

Programs in the draft bill include expanding a Medicare pilot program that sends doctors and nurses to care for people at their homes, increase flexibility for groups of doctors who are paid based on coordinated care for patients called “Accountable Care Organizations,” and increasing the use of telehealth, where technology allows doctors to consult with patients far away. 

Measures like these aimed at making Medicare payments smarter have largely stayed out of the spotlight and partisan battles, despite the fact that some of the Medicare programs being expanded in the draft bill were set in motion by ObamaCare. 

The draft bill would also expand a program from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, which was created by ObamaCare and has drawn Republican criticism for other initiatives, such as one aimed at fighting high drug prices.

The bill does not have a cost estimate from the Congressional Budget Office yet, but the draft calls for the initiative to balance any spending against its projected savings.

It is possible that the package could get a Senate vote in the lame-duck session after the elections, though introducing a final bill, as opposed to this draft, would come first.