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 HatchDACA remains in place, but Dreamers still in limbo Bottom line Bottom line MORE (R-Utah) and the panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Democratic proposal to extend 0 unemployment checks Senate Democrats offer plan to extend added jobless benefits during pandemic Hillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats MORE (Ore.), as well as Sens. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerSenators press IRS chief on stimulus check pitfalls Hillicon Valley: Facebook takes down 'boogaloo' network after pressure | Election security measure pulled from Senate bill | FCC officially designating Huawei, ZTE as threats Overnight Defense: Democrats blast Trump handling of Russian bounty intel | Pentagon leaders set for House hearing July 9 | Trump moves forward with plan for Germany drawdown MORE (D-Va.) and Johnny IsaksonJohnny IsaksonDoug Collins leads Kelly Loeffler by 2 points in Georgia Senate race 'The Senate could certainly use a pastor': Georgia Democrat seeks to seize 'moral moment' Senate Ethics panel dismisses stock sale probe against Loeffler 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.