Key House Panel Approves Meehan Measure Aiding Seniors With Chronic Conditions
The House Ways and Means Committee today approved a measure authored by Congressman Patrick Meehan (R-Pa.) that will aid seniors coping with chronic illness obtain Medicare Advantage insurance coverage that better suits their needs. The provision, included in bipartisan legislation sponsored by Reps. Pat Tiberi (R-Oh.) and Sander Levin (D-Mich.), had originally been introduced as a standalone bill by Meehan and Rep. Terri Sewell (D-Ala.) late last month.
Specifically, the measure waives uniformity requirements among Medicare Advantage plans and allows insurers to offer benefits better tailored to meet the individual needs of patients with chronic illness. The broader legislation approved today, H.R. 3168, included a number of improvements to Medicare Special Needs Plans, utilized by millions of American seniors who suffer from chronic conditions or are enrolled in Medicaid. The legislation was approved with unanimous bipartisan support.
“This is an important step forward for a measure that will make obtaining needed care easier for so many seniors suffering from conditions like arthritis, heart disease or diabetes,” said Congressman Meehan. “It will help seniors avoid unnecessary doctor’s visits, access the doctors they need and have an insurance plan that better fits their needs. I’m grateful to Reps. Tiberi and Levin for including the provision in their legislation and I’m thankful to my colleagues for supporting it.”
Meehan’s measure earned wide praise from care providers and industry stakeholders.
The provision “will help further improve the program by allowing plans to adapt benefits to meet the needs of [Medicare Advantage] enrollees with chronic conditions,” said Thomas P. Nickels, Executive Vice President of the American Hospital Association. “Chronically ill MA enrollees would benefit from specialized service, but plans have been unable to offer it due to the resources required to make such a service available to all enrollees. This legislation gives plans the flexibility to tailor their products to better meet the needs of those chronically ill enrollees... We applaud your leadership to improve MA for chronically ill beneficiaries and look forward to working with you to secure passage of this legislation,” Nickels said.
“H.R. 3044 would better enable Medicare Advantage plans to use health care dollars in smarter ways by facilitating patient-centered, comprehensive care plans for chronically ill enrollees,” said Allyson Y. Schwartz, President and CEO of the Better Medicare Alliance. “Your legislation expands the definition of the kind of services that may be provided to chronically ill beneficiaries as supplemental benefits. This change could allow plans to offer services such as meal delivery, non-emergency medical transportation, expanded in-home services, and case management — all important components to meet the needs of these patients,” Schwartz said.
In addition to Reps. Meehan and Sewell, the standalone legislation’s co-sponsors included Reps. Leonard Lance (R-N.J.), Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.). The full text of Meehan’s legislation is available here and the full text of H.R. 3168 is available here.