WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate unanimously passed bipartisan legislation introduced by Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, to improve health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries living with chronic conditions.
“There are a number of impressive innovations in the public and private sector to deliver better care to patients with multiple chronic conditions,” said Sen. Warner. “This Chronic Care Working Group deliberately worked with patients, advocacy groups, innovators, and other health care stakeholders to put together a set of bipartisan, cost-effective, and evidence-based policies that will better facilitate the delivery of high-quality and affordable care for our Medicare population. This bill takes the necessary steps to modernize Medicare to better meet the needs of today’s seniors and I am encouraged to see it move forward.”
The Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act would:
- Permanently reauthorize and strengthen Medicare Advantage Special Needs plans to ensure that Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions or other significant health needs have continued access to quality care that is tailored to their personal needs;
- Expand telehealth services offered through different providers of care that will benefit seniors in rural areas and increase access to primary care services and telestroke care; and
- Extend the proven “independence at home” model that allows seniors to receive care from primary care teams. This provision aims to decrease hospital readmissions and to allow seniors with multiple chronic conditions to receive care in their own home.
Announced at a May 2015 hearing on chronic care, the Finance Committee formed the bipartisan Chronic Care Working Group led by Warner and Isakson to develop policy ideas to address Medicare spending on treating multiple chronic illnesses.
The CHRONIC Care Act was introduced in the last Congress and reintroduced earlier this year by Sen. Warner and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), along with Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-OR). In May, the bill passed unanimously out of the Senate Finance Committee.
A section-by-section summary of the CHRONIC Care Act of 2017 can be found here. A one-page summary of the CHRONIC Care Act of 2017 can be found here. The legislative text of theCHRONIC Care Act of 2017 can be found here.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA), a member of the Senate Finance and Budget Committees, released the following statement today on Senate Republican efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act:
“This evening, the CBO released a score concluding millions of Americans would lose healthcare under this latest partisan repeal plan. Just hours before, S&P released a report finding that the Graham-Cassidy bill would cost our country about 580,000 jobs and $240 billion in lost economic activity over the next decade. There’s a reason why this bill is opposed by non-partisan groups from every sector of the health industry, including the American Medical Association, health insurers, hospitals, patients, the American Cancer Society, and the American Heart Association. With even the center-right think tank AEI panning both this bill and the process under which it is being rammed through Congress, it is time for the Senate to put this bill aside and recognize that we must work in a bipartisan way to stabilize the health insurance markets and put in place permanent fixes to lower costs and expand health care options for Americans. I stand ready and willing to work with any Senator, Republican or Democrat, who seriously shares that goal.”
Statement of U.S. Sens. Warner & Kaine On Anthem’s Decision to Re-enter Certain Va. Health Care Markets
Sep 15 2017
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine (both D-VA) issued this joint statement following an announcement by Anthem that it will re-enter 63 counties or cities in Virginia where consumers otherwise would be left without any insurance options in the 2018 Affordable Care Act exchanges. Both senators were engaged in efforts to resolve this challenge prior to today’s deadline for notifying the Bureau of Insurance at the State Corporation Commission.
“We are glad Anthem is re-entering the Virginia individual health care exchange to provide thousands of Virginia consumers with coverage in places where they might have had none. This is welcome news for Virginians in rural communities, who have been hit particularly hard by health care uncertainty. It's time for the Trump Administration to stop their efforts to sabotage and destabilize the markets, which resulted in fewer choices and higher premiums for 2018. We will continue to work in Congress with colleagues regardless of party to fix the existing Affordable Care Act to ensure a stable market, lower costs, and improve coverage.”
The Senate HELP Committee has been holding bipartisan hearings this month on measures to stabilize the health insurance market, including proposals like Kaine’s bill to help stabilize the individual health care marketplace and lower premiums through reinsurance. On Thursday, he called on insurers like Anthem to stop depriving people in rural Virginia of opportunities by limiting coverage options or pulling out of the individual markets. State health insurance commissioners and health care experts have expressed support for reinsurance as a way to increase certainty in the marketplace.
Senator Warner sits on the Senate Finance Committee, which is holding hearings on expanding consumer options and making health care coverage more affordable for American families. Senator Warner has offered several commonsense proposals to increase competition in the health care marketplace, lower health care costs, and make the Affordable Care Act work better for more Virginians.
Statement of U.S. Sens. Warner And Kaine On Anthem Decision Caused By Trump Administration Playing Politics With Health Care
Aug 11 2017
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine released the following statement today on the uncertainty the Trump Administration has caused in the health insurance market, resulting in today’s announcement that Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield will leave the Virginia marketplace in 2018:
“As a result of the uncertainty, mixed signals and deliberate sabotage from the Trump Administration, some insurers will raise premiums and scale back their health insurance offerings in the individual market, which serves more than 400,000 people in Virginia. It is unfortunate that others, such as Anthem, are choosing to leave the marketplace altogether.
“President Trump has been playing politics with health care for months now, and unfortunately, Virginians will be the ones paying the price. A report issued this week by the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation found that the Administration’s actions will lead to double-digit premium increases and more insurers withdrawing from the marketplaces. President Trump has said that he wants Obamacare to ‘implode,’ and his Administration is deliberately destabilizing the health insurance marketplace in order to achieve that goal.
“Insurers still have no idea whether the Administration plans to follow through on its threats to withhold cost-sharing reduction payments. In addition, there are troubling reports about the Trump Administration’s deliberate efforts to undermine the upcoming open enrollment period, the first under the Trump presidency.
“Republicans and Democrats in the Senate have already begun working in a bipartisan way to explore ways we can improve the health care system and provide additional stability to the health care marketplaces. President Trump should stop using the health coverage of millions of Americans as political leverage, and demonstrate leadership by working with responsible members of both parties to improve the Affordable Care Act.”
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Bill would create a temporary transitional payment for home infusion services
Aug 03 2017
WASHINGTON – U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Johnny Isakson (R-GA), members of the Senate Finance Committee, today introduced bipartisan legislation to create a temporary transitional reimbursement structure for Medicare home infusion services.
A version of legislation introduced by Sens. Warner and Isakson last Congress to restructure the way Medicare beneficiaries who need intravenous medication receive their infusion treatments from the comfort of their home was included in the landmark 21st Century Cures Act last year. However, the Cures bill did not properly align the change in payments with the new benefit, leading to a four-year gap during which patients would have challenges securing these life-saving treatments. This legislation ensures that patients receiving home infusion treatments maintain their access to these services until policies from the 21st Century Cures Act are implemented in 2021.
“Home infusion is a safe and effective alternative to inpatient care for many patients,” said Sen. Warner. “This bill expands on the progress made on 21st Century Cures by creating a transitional payment system that will allow Medicare to continue paying accurately for the drugs, while also protecting patients’ access to important services. This commonsense fix will help the Medicare program provide high-quality, lower-cost care, benefiting both patients and taxpayers.”
“Infusion therapy delivered in the home setting is the most desirable, convenient and by far the most cost-effective. We made important progress for modern medicine in the 21st Century Cures Act, and the home infusion therapy legislation that Senator Warner and I included in that bill makes a real difference for patients who need safe and effective treatments,” said Sen. Isakson. “Home infusion technology is a tremendous contribution to quality health care, and this legislation builds on the Cures Act to help ensure home infusion remains accessible.”
The legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Chris Coons (D-DE), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Angus King (I-ME), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), David Perdue (R-GA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), and Roger Wicker (R-MS).
“This bill builds upon previous legislation so Medicare beneficiaries can receive infusion treatments at home,” Sen. Grassley said. “This is an option that Medicare beneficiaries sought, and it’s a common sense, cost-effective way to provide care. The private sector recognized this long ago. Medicare should continue to reflect the modern practice of medicine and offer the best way of meeting a medical need at the lowest cost.”
The Medicare Home Infusion Therapy Access Act of 2017 would create a transitional reimbursement for Medicare home infusion services. Starting in January 2017, the 21st Century Cures Act changed the payment for home infusion drugs, aligning them with payments for other drugs paid underMedicare’s Part B benefit. The 21st Century Cures Act also created a new reimbursement structure for the professional services associated with home infusion, which is set to take effect in 2021. The four-year gap between the January 2017 drug payment change and the implementation of the infusion services payment in 2021 may threaten the accessibility of home-infusion therapy. This bill would help smooth the transition to more accurate payments for home infusions drugs while also protecting patients’ access to these medications until the new home infusion benefit is implemented in 2021.
Sens. Warner, Isakson, Roberts, Grassley, Cardin, Brown, Portman, and Bennet are all members of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicare.
The legislation is supported by: Accreditation Commission for Health Care (ACHC), American Association of Heart Failure Nurses, American Association for Homecare, American Society for Parenteral and Enteral Nutrition (ASPEN), Amerita, Inc., American Association for Homecare, Appalachian Home Infusion, ARJ Infusion Services, Best Option Healthcare PR, Inc., Big Sky IV Care, BioScrip, BJC Home Care Services Pharmacy, Brooks Home I.V., Inc., CarePro Health Services, CGH Medical Center, Chartwell Midwest Wisconsin, LLC, Chartwell Pennsylvania, LP, Choice CriticalCare Inc., Consortium of Clinical Immunologists (CIIC), Coram, CVS Specialty Infusion, Services, Druid City Vital Care, EMED Technologies, EMZA USA LLC & DeliverIt Pharmacy Inc., Fairview Health Services, Gates Healthcare Associates, Inc., Grifols, Hobbs Pharmacy, Home Health United Xtra Care Pharmacy, Home Parenteral Services, Horizon Healthcare Services, ICU Medical Inc., Infusion Solutions, Inc., Innovatix, INS, Intra Pump Infusion Systems, Intramed Plus, IV Solutions, LLC, John Hopkins Care Group, Kaup Pharmacy, Inc., Lakeland Home, Infusion, Liberty Medical Specialties, Inc., Medical Accounts Receivable Solutions, Inc. (MARs), Medical Alternatives, MK Infusion Pharmacy, LLC., MSD, Nation's Home Infusion, NuCara IV Services, One Source Homecare Services, OptiMed Infusion Services, Option Care, OptionOne Pharmacy, Paragon Healthcare Inc., Pediatric Home Service, Pharmacare Health Specialists, PharmaScript Inc., Preferred Homecare, Premier Infusion Care, Premier Nursing Group, LLC, Premier Point Home Health, Inc., PromptCare Home Infusion, LLC, Redline Specialty Pharmacy, SBH Medical, Ltd., Sentara Home Infusion Pharmacy, Sentara HealthCare, Simfarose Pharmaceutical Specialty, Smiths Medical, Soleo Health, Spectrum Infusion, Inc., TANYR Healthcare, The Immune Deficiency Foundation (IDF), The National Home Infusion Association (NHIA), Thomas Jefferson University Hospitals, UnityPoint at Home, University of Iowa Community HomeCare, VGM Group Inc., Vital Care, Inc., and the VNA Home Infusion Therapy Pharmacy.
Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Pat Tiberi (R-OH) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and has been referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce, and in addition to the Committee on Ways and Means (H.R. 3163). The full text of the legislation is availablehere.
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Pat Roberts (R-Kan.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.) today introduced legislation to streamline the accreditation process for dialysis facilities to improve access for Medicare patients with end-stage renal disease (ESRD).
“Dialysis facilities provide life-saving treatments for ESRD patients,” said Roberts. “However, these facilities do not have the same accreditation process to serve Medicare patients as other care facilities, resulting in less access to care. Patients with ESRD typically visit these facilities several times a week to receive this critical treatment, but often have to travel extensive distances, particularly in rural areas. Our bill would make it easier for facilities to be approved under Medicare so patients have more convenient, accessible options for treatment.”
“This bipartisan legislation will streamline the Medicare accreditation process to allow dialysis clinics to more easily serve the patients that depend on them for life-saving care,” said Warner. “It will allow dialysis care facilities to utilize the same accreditation processes available to other Medicare providers to avoid unnecessary delays while still guaranteeing quality care.”
The bipartisan Dialysis Access Improvement Act, S. 1729, would allow dialysis providers to seek outside accreditation from organizations approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to participate in the Medicare program. Currently, other health care providers have the option of using an outside agency to survey and accredit their facility for Medicare participation. However, dialysis facilities do not have that option and have to wait months, or even years, to receive accreditation to bill Medicare for ESRD services. This bill will allow the accreditation process to keep pace with new facility openings.
The legislation is cosponsored by Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), and Todd Young (R-Ind.).
Roberts and Warner are both members of the Senate Finance Committee, which has jurisdiction over Medicare.
Companion legislation was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives by Reps. Lynn Jenkins (R-Kan.) and John Lewis (D-Ga.) and passed the House unanimously as part of a broader Medicare package (H.R. 3178). It has the support of Kidney Care Council.
The full text of the legislation is available here.
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Mark Warner, a member of the Senate Budget, Finance and Banking, Housing & Urban Affairs Committees, and Tim Kaine, a member of the Senate Budget and Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committees, joined U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and 29 of their colleagues to introduce legislation to lower prescription drug costs. This bill would allow for Medicare to negotiate the best possible price of prescription drugs to cut costs for nearly 41 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D. Current law only allows for bargaining by pharmaceutical companies and bans Medicare from doing so.
The legislation would permit the Secretary of Health and Human Services to directly negotiate with drug companies for price discounts for the Medicare Prescription Drug Program, eliminating the “non-interference” clause that expressly bans Medicare from negotiating for the best possible prices. By harnessing the bargaining power of nearly 41 million seniors, Medicare could negotiate discounts and help drive down costs of prescription drugs.
“We are the only major government in the world that does not leverage its purchasing power to negotiate prescription drug prices. This bill will allow Medicare to negotiate prices with pharmaceutical companies like other countries already do, helping lower drug prices across the entire healthcare system,” said Sen. Warner. “This commonsense measure is only one piece to a comprehensive approach we must take to lower prescription drug costs for seniors and make prescription drugs more affordable for all Americans.”
“The bill seeks to bring down the rising costs of prescription drugs for patients by letting Medicare negotiate for the best price,” Kaine said. “This bill seeks to cut costs for nearly 41 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D, ensuring that our seniors don’t have to choose between prescription drugs they depend on and other essentials like food and housing.”
Warner and Kaine have been strong supporters of this policy change throughout their time in the Senate. In July, Sen. Warner urged the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to look into ways in which the private sector has successfully implemented outcome-based arrangements with drug manufacturers and provide this data to lawmakers so they can figure out ways to contain prescription drug costs. Kaine has co-sponsored earlier versions of this legislation in June 2013, January 2015, and January 2017 and sent a letter urging the incoming Trump administration to work with Congress to lower prescription drug prices.
Senators Chuck Schumer (D-NY), Patty Murray (D-WA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Kamala Harris (D-CA), Maggie Hassan (D-NH), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Angus King (I-ME), Patrick Leahy (D-VT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Ben Cardin (D-MD), Tom Udall (D-NM), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bill Nelson (D-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) are cosponsors of the legislation.