HHS Announces Voluntary Chronic Care Program for Medicare Beneficiaries
HHS officials on Tuesday announced a new program that by the end of the year could include 10 three-year chronic care pilot projects to help Medicare beneficiaries manage their conditions and reduce costs, the AP/Richmond Times Dispatch reports (AP/Richmond Times Dispatch, 4/21). The Voluntary Chronic Care Improvement Program, authorized by the new Medicare law, will include a total of 150,000 to 300,000 beneficiaries enrolled in traditional fee-for-service Medicare who have multiple chronic conditions such as diabetes, asthma and congestive heart failure. CMS, which will administer the program, will publish a notice in the Federal Register on April 23 to seek proposals from qualified organizations that provide population-based chronic care improvement services to manage the pilot projects. According to HHS, chronic conditions currently account for a disproportionate share of Medicare expenditures. For example, about 14% of Medicare beneficiaries have congestive heart failure, but treatment for the condition accounts for 43% of program expenditures. HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson said, "This initiative will help hundreds of thousands of seniors and disabled Americans with chronic illnesses to stay healthier and receive higher quality of care" (HHS release, 4/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.