Senate Finance Committee Gets Update from CMS on Medicare Delivery System Reform

The Senate Finance Committee – the committee with jurisdiction over Medicare and Medicaid – held a hearing updating committee members on the status of Medicare delivery reforms included under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The only witness during the hearing was Jonathan Blum, acting Principal Deputy Administrator and Director, Center for Medicare, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

The main focus of the hearing was for Mr. Blum to update Committee Members on several pilot projects currently underway as well as other reforms – such as the transition within Medicare from a fee-for-service model to one that promotes and rewards quality, coordinated care – that were contained in the ACA.

Both Mr. Blum, as well as several Committee members, emphasized the vital role home care plays in any coordinated care effort as well as in reducing costs to the Medicare system.

In his written remarks, Mr. Blum highlighted the early success of the Community-based Care Transition Program stating that the program, “supports 82 participant organizations working in partnership with Community Based Organizations in 33 States to help high-risk Medicare beneficiaries make successful transitions from hospital to home or to another post-hospital setting.”

Senator Stabenow (D-MI) highlighted the coordination of care between Detroit Medical Center and an organization affiliated with Michigan Hospice – @Home Support – that gives patients the ability to receive care at home in order to lower hospital readmission rates as part of a broader Accountable Care Organization (ACO) initiative.

Similarly, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), asked Mr. Blum about the cost savings Medicare could see by, “rebalancing from nursing home care to community-based care.”

Both Senator Stabenow and Senator Cantwell’s comments came about because of a broader conversation on how to lower hospital readmission rates – a key component of the ACA, a primary metric for new quality reporting measures, and a source of potential cost savings for the Medicare program.

For more information on today’s Senate Finance Committee hearing – including the opening statements of the Chairman and Ranking Member as well as Mr. Blum’s written testimony, please click here.

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