Statements and Speeches

WASHINGTON – Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.) released the following statement regarding the Finance Committee’s hearing on “A Pathway to Improving Care for Medicare Patients with Chronic Conditions.

“Today’s hearing addresses one of the most critical issues facing our nation’s seniors and our health care system. More than 90 percent of our seniors suffer from at least one chronic condition and many suffer from more. In recent years, Medicare beneficiaries with six or more chronic conditions accounted for nearly half of all Medicare spending.

“I often say an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. I know that by improving health care coordination and investing in preventive screenings and wellness programs we can address health problems before they become chronic and costly.

“The Affordable Care Act has helped to make progress on this approach by giving seniors free annual checkups and preventive care that aims to stave off chronic conditions. Accountable Care Organizations (ACO) and Patient-Centered Medical Homes have also proven to be effective tools to improve care and reduce costs. More than 400 ACOs now participate in the Medicare program, serving more than 7 million Medicare beneficiaries.  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reports that all Medicare ACOs have generated more than $417 million in total program savings for Medicare.

“But, these programs only work if seniors and their doctors know about these benefits and take advantage of them — in 2013, less than half a percent of obese seniors, or 50,000 seniors, received free weight-loss counseling from their doctor. We need to do better at encouraging and incentivizing seniors to use these benefits.

“Whenever I am confronted with a difficult problem, I try to focus on the root causes of the problem, find out what is working to solve it, and do more of that. I look forward to hearing our witnesses share their knowledge and expertise on these issues, and what we’re doing that we should more of and conversely what’s not working that should be avoided.”