May 14,2015

Press Contact:

Aaron Fobes / Julia Lawless (Hatch): 202-224-4515 
Charles Pope (Wyden): 202-224-4515

Hatch and Wyden Signal Chronic Care as Key Finance Committee Priority

Hearing Marks Launching Point for Full Committee Effort to Develop Legislation

WASHINGTON –Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Ranking Member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) today announced a plan for the committee to address Medicare spending on treating multiple chronic illnesses, which accounts for the vast majority of the program’s expenditures.

“Chronically ill patients account for a large percentage of Medicare spending, and if left unresolved, this situation will only get worse,” Hatch said. “We have to find ways to provide high quality care at greater value and lower cost, and I look forward to working with Ranking Member Wyden and all of our committee colleagues towards this goal.”

“Today, the vast majority of Medicare dollars are spent caring for patients living with multiple persistent, chronic health conditions. The variety of services required for this care can often be uncoordinated and costly,” Wyden said. “I commend Chairman Hatch for making this issue a priority for the committee, and I look forward to working with him and all of our colleagues to craft a solution that gets to the heart of this issue.”

Hatch and Wyden announced the formation of a working group to develop policy ideas for the committee to consider, to be co-chaired by Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Mark Warner (D-Va.). More information about the working group will be announced at a later time.

Spending on chronic illnesses accounts for roughly 93% of Medicare spending today. Without encouragement for providers to coordinate care, many Medicare patients have to visit multiple doctors and specialists to receive their care they need. At the hearing, the Finance Committee heard testimony from Dr. Patrick Conway, deputy administrator for innovation and quality at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), and Dr. Mark Miller, the executive director of the Medicare Payment and Advisory Commission (MEDPAC), both of whom offered ideas on how Congress can begin addressing chronic illness in Medicare. Their testimony can be found here.

Hatch and Wyden’s opening statements from the hearing can be found here.