WASHINGTON, D.C.— Today, Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Thomas Petri (R-WI), introduced the bipartisan Medicare Transitional Care Act of 2014, legislation that seeks to improve transitions of care for Medicare beneficiaries at highest risk for readmission as they move from the hospital setting to their home, skilled nursing facility or next point of care. The National Transitions of Care Coalition (NTOCC) believes the bill is an important step forward to improving patient outcomes and reducing unnecessary health-related expenses.
The U.S. health care system often fails to meet the needs of patients transitioning from one care setting to another. Poorly managed care transitions can create serious patient safety, quality of care, and health outcome concerns. In addition, avoidable complications and unnecessary hospital readmissions due to these gaps in care lead to significant financial burdens for patients, payers, and taxpayers. Almost 20 percent of Medicare patients must be readmitted within 30 days of their original release and those readmissions cost Medicare more than $17 billion a year.
“As Congress looks for effective policies that further promote value-based, coordinated care and improve patient outcomes, it is critical that we address the gaps in care that remain for patients transitioning between settings,” said NTOCC’s Executive Director Cheri Lattimer. “The Medicare Transitional Care Act puts in place the necessary infrastructure to foster care transition interventions with collaborative team approaches that have proven successful, which will lead to better health outcomes for beneficiaries and offer real cost savings for patients, the health care system and taxpayers.”
The Medicare Transitional Care Act establishes a specific payment for coordination activities that would ensure that beneficiaries and providers receive the support they need during transitions from the hospital. Payment for these services would be linked to performance metrics to ensure that interventions result in improved outcomes, which will ultimately lead to long-term economic benefits for Medicare.
The legislation incorporates many of NTOCC’s principles, such as aligning the transitional service requirements with NTOCC’s “Seven Essential Intervention Categories”—seven key elements found in evidence-based care interventions— and the integration of all members of the care team in executing effective care transitions.
Click here to view the NTOCC letter of support for the Act.