Chronic care overhaul proposed for Medicare

by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar

A bipartisan group of lawmakers is proposing a new approach to health care aimed at avoiding hospitalizations for older people, when possible.

They're calling the initiative the Better Care Program. Under this concept, teams of doctors, nurses and social workers would get a flat fee per Medicare patient, with few strings attached.

A principal player is Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat expected to take command of the Finance Committee, which oversees Medicare.

These banded together in search of new options in the belief that communications between and among physicians sometimes is lacking and physicians occasionally prescribe drugs that work at cross purposes.

The spur for the group's establishment was a concern by lawmakers about older Medicare beneficiaries who often have to deal with two or more chronic conditions.

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