Two hundred and sixty five – that’s how many amendments were filed by Senators to the Senate payment reform/delivery system reform bill (see all the amendments here). A major once-in-a-decade-or-so health reform law brings out lots and lot of health ideas, many good, some bad.
Debate starts Tuesday, and if necessary, will continue on Thursday.
HCFA and the Campaign For Better Care worked closely with Senators on a number of amendments to strengthen the bill. These amendments reflect our 10 principles, which we blogged on last week.
We urge the Senate to support these amendments from the Campaign, among many other positive ideas:
- Don’t Sunset Prevention: Amendment 30 from Senator Chandler doesn’t let the Prevention Trust Fund expire after 5 years, as provided in the Senate bill.
- Patient Centered Care: Amendment 9 from Senator Chang-Diaz adds several important provisions to requirements for ACOs, including patient confidence measures, cultural competence, use of community health workers, and support for chronic disease self-management.
- Reward Good Outcomes: Amendment 45 from Senator Montigny encourages ACOs to reward providers who achieve good outcomes, like reducing potentially avoidable admissions, readmissions, or complications.
- Protect Vulnerable: Amendment 81 from Senator Rush extends protections for vulnerable patients to those in private plans, by encouraging them to use socio-economic factors in risk adjustment, integration of mental health, and providers serving underserved populations. These are only voluntary for private health plans in the Senate bill.
- Patient Choice: Amendment 134 from Senator Creem allows patients to choose their providers within a health plan.
- Accessible Web Site: Amendment 151 from Senator Rodrigues aims to make the consumer information web site more accessible, by including other languages, having it tested out by consumers, and including accessibility information for people with disabilities.
- Protect Appeals and Second Opinions: Amendment 10 from Senator Brownsberger provides for external appeals of ACO and provider organization decisions, and lets a patient seek a second opinion to support an appeal.
- No ACO conflicts of interest: Amendment 46 from Senator Montigny makes sure that no conflicts on interest exist on ACO governance boards, and that ACO governance is transparent.
- Savings shared With consumers: Amendment 171 from Senator Jehlen provides that shared savings programs include consumers, too.
There are a number of other amendments strongly supported by HCFA, including
- Senator Eldridge’s amendment 123 to improve MassHealth enrollment for children, by authorizing 12-month eligibility, pre-populated renewals and electronic signatures;
- Senator Fargo’s package of amendments to support disparities reduction, in particular amendment 42 to create an Office of Health Equity;
- Senator Petruccelli’s amendment 32 to require GIC and CommCare plans to cover tobacco cessation.
Please let your Senator know today if you support one or more of these amendments. Our organizers, Ari Fertig (firstname.lastname@example.org; 617-275-2913) and Celia Segal (email@example.com; 617-275-2904) will be happy to help you figure out who to call and what to say.