White House Conference on Aging Updates

The date and the theme of the 2015 White House Conference on Aging was announced last week. The Conference will be held on July 13 and will focus on how to best address the changing landscape of aging in the coming decade. So far, the Conference has released four policy briefs on the topics of retirement security, healthy aging, long-term services and supports, and elder justice. Comments on the briefs received by June 12 will be considered in the development of a report that will be used during the Conference in July.

Senators Create Chronic Care Working Group

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) have launched a working group to study how to improve health outcomes for Medicare beneficiaries in need of chronic care. The Senators seek stakeholder input from the health care industry on the use of alternative payment models and reforms to the fee-for-service payment system to incentivize care coordination and the use of telemedicine. The deadline to submit comments to chronic_care@finance.sentate.gov is Monday, June 22, 2015.

McKinley Introduces BACPAC Bill

Rep. David McKinley (R-W.V.) has introduced H.R. 1458, the Bundling and Coordinating Post-Acute Care (BACPAC) Act, which would reform how Medicare pays for post-acute care by transitioning to a bundled payment system. Organizations known as coordinators would share in the savings that result from the new coordinated care payment approach. The legislation is cosponsored by Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) and Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.). Congressman McKinley estimates the measure could save between $20 billion and $50 billion for the Medicare program.

NIH Urges Change in Antiretroviral Treatment Schedule

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have released new research findings indicating that starting antiretroviral treatment early could lower an HIV-infected patient’s risk of developing AIDS and other serious illnesses. This study is the first to reinforce the United States stance on when to start HIV drugs, which are in conflict with the World Health Organization’s HIV treatment guidelines recommending that treatment begins only when a patient’s white blood cell count drops to a certain level. The findings are a result of the Strategic Timing of AntiRetroviral Treatments (START) study, which enrolled 4,685 HIV-infected people and began in 2011. The study was supposed to run until 2016, but ended early when the data showed a significant difference between those who received treatment before their cell count declined to a certain point, and those who waited. “We now have clear-cut proof that it is of significantly greater health benefit to an HIV-infected person to start antiretroviral therapy sooner rather than later…these findings have global implications for the treatment of HIV,” Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) Anthony Fauci stated in a press release. Early therapy can also lower an individual’s viral load, reducing the risk they will transmit HIV to others.

Bipartisan Bill to Aid Rural ACOs Introduced

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) have introduced legislation to improve care in rural areas and increase the coordinated, cost-effective care offered through Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). The Rural ACO Improvement Act of 2015 would allow an ACO to include patients who receive their primary care services from a nurse practitioner, physician assistant, or Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) because they live in a rural area with a shortage of primary care physicians.

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