New Medicare Benefits Thanks To CHRONIC Care Act

Reviewed and Updated by Anastasia Iliou,

Last month, Congress introduced the CHRONIC Care Act. The title “CHRONIC” stands for “Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic Care.” It is designed to help seniors and Medicare beneficiaries with chronic illnesses and disabilities and those who benefit from both Medicare and Medicaid.

New Medicare Advantage Benefits

With the CHRONIC Care Act, Medicare Advantage plans can now cover “nonmedical” benefits. Before the act passed, your Medicare Advantage plan would only cover “Durable Medical Equipment (DME).” DME includes items like blood sugar monitors, wheelchairs, hospital beds, and other items deemed medically necessary and durable (reusable for at least three years). Now, Medicare Advantage plans can cover home modifications (like wheelchair ramps, chair lifts, and bathroom handlebars) if medically necessary.

Additionally, Medicare Advantage plans can now provide more telehealth services. That means that your plan may provide coverage for virtual health services, like talking to your doctor via phone or video chat. Previously, Medicare had very strict guidelines about who was eligible to receive coverage for telehealth from Medicare. Now, the CHRONIC Care Act is expanding telemedicine.

Additional Home Care

The CHRONIC Care Act also expands your access to home care. Kidney disease patients can now access in-home dialysis treatments. This means that in the future, it may be easier for your doctor to come visit you.

Additionally, the Independence at Home program is expanding from 10,000 patients to 15,000. Independence at Home is a small program that allows doctors to visit patients on house calls and receive Medicare coverage. The program increases care quality and lowers care cost.  While the program is still quite limited, this expansion means that more and more chronically ill patients are gaining access to home care.

Better Care Coordination

Lastly, the new act allows Accountable Care Organizations (doctor and hospital groups) to pay patients up to $20 when they come in for primary care services. This is an incentive to get people to visit Accountable Care Organizations. While ACOs may not be the best solution for everyone, they are beneficial because you can find all your doctors and providers located in one convenient place.

All of these updates and changes mean that it’s going to be much easier for seniors and Medicare beneficiaries with chronic conditions and illnesses to access the best possible care and coverage.

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