Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Aging Committee Holds Hearing on Person-Centered Care

The Senate Special Committee on Aging held a hearing last week focusing on how to best promote person-centered care for those living with serious illnesses. The committee focused on how providers can make patients the most comfortable while still providing high quality care.

Testifying at the hearing was Dr. Atul Gawande, best-selling author, executive director of the Ariadne Labs, and a professor at both Harvard School of Public Health and Harvard Medical School; Dr. Kate Lally, Chief of Palliative Care at Care New England Health System; and Amy Berman, Senior Program Officer at the John A. Hartford Foundation.

Dr. Gawande emphasized the necessity of closing the gaps of coordination between care providers, especially for those with serious illness or receiving end-of-life care. He said that having more in depth conversations about these services and creating a system that allows for better coordination of services is critical for patients to receive the highest quality of care.

Committee Chairwoman Susan Collins (R-Maine) recalled a story of a close friend who received end-of-life care at a home-like setting and expressed concern that such opportunities are not available to most Americans due to lapses in the way Medicare incentives care.
Committee member Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) also brought up concerns with the way payment systems are created, noting that current structures do not do enough to promote quality care over volume.

Sen. Whitehouse introduced a bill during the hearing to alleviate some of the problems he identified within the current Medicare payment system. The bill, titled: “Person- Centered Care Act,” aims to streamline regulations and allow providers to better coordinate care and find the right setting for patients with serious illness. The bill also seeks to alleviate the “three-day stay” rule, which requires patients to have spent three days in a hospital to quality for Medicare coverage of skilled nursing care.

The American Health Care Association is still reviewing Sen. Whitehouse’s legislation and appreciates his support of increasing access to skilled nursing facilities for patients in need.

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