“It’s common sense that Medicare policies should help prevent a heart attack or stroke instead of treat the heart attack or stroke after they occur,” Grassley said. “That means coordinating care among the doctors treating patients with diabetes, obesity or high blood pressure to prevent serious complications. It means improving telehealth so residents of rural Iowa can get help right after a stroke when there’s no neurologist in the area. It means better management of medications to prevent over-medicating or harmful interactions. These steps and more mean people can stay healthier and in their own homes, where they want to be, instead of hospitals or nursing homes. The bill accomplishes all of this without spending more money.”
The Finance Committee unanimously passed the CHRONIC CARE Act. The measure was developed through the committee, where Grassley is a senior member and former chairman, and includes several of Grassley’s legislative priorities
It extends the Independence at Home demonstration project, which allows at-home care for Medicare beneficiaries with multiple chronic illnesses. This can keep people out of nursing homes, a long-time Grassley goal.
The bill allows beneficiaries receiving kidney dialysis at home to do a required monthly check-in with their doctor via telehealth rather than having to go to the doctor’s office or hospital. “This is helpful for at-home dialysis patients in rural areas,” Grassley said.
It expands the use of telehealth services to Medicare Advantage enrollees. The measure expands the use of telehealth for individuals experiencing a stroke. Telestroke programs provide for rapid diagnosis and treatment to prevent death and disability in rural areas where there are no neurologists available. For example, several regional hospitals are connected to stroke specialists at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics for fast consultation via video and data connection. Grassley is a cosponsor of S. 431, the Furthering Access to Stroke Telemedicine Act (FAST Act), which would also accomplish this goal.
The CHRONIC CARE Act requires multiple studies, including reports on improving medication synchronization and the impact of obesity drugs on patient health and spending. Grassley is an original co-sponsor of S. 830, the Treat and Reduce Obesity Act of 2017. This legislation would give Medicare beneficiaries and their health care providers additional tools to reduce obesity by improving access to weight-loss counseling and new prescription drugs for chronic weight management.
The measure includes provisions to further move Medicare Advantage toward payment for quality of care. Grassley works to make sure Medicare payment policies reward quality, not simply pay for services.