CHRONIC Act of 2017 included in two-year budget deal

The bipartisan  Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic Care (CHRONIC) Act of 2017 was included in the two-year budget deal approved by Congress on Feb. 9. The CHRONIC Act will allow, for the first time, Medicare to pay for some long-term supports and services.

The bill gives Medicare managed care plans, called Medicare Advantage (MA), new flexibility to better organize care and provide non-medical supports and services, such as home-delivered meals or rides to a doctor, in their benefit packages. It not only allows managed care organizations to include social supports in their benefit packages, it also lets them tailor benefits to the specific needs of their enrollees. Previously, the plans had to provide the same benefits to everyone.

The act also expands a temporary program aimed at providing team-based care at home for people with complex medical conditions and increases the use of telehealth services.

The new benefits are limited only to MA plans. Seniors in fee-for-service Medicare would still be ineligible for long-term services and supports.