KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Wyden’s Medicare Proposal Portends New Powerful Post

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., the likely next Senate Finance Committee chairman, is flexing his political muscles by proposing a change to how Medicare treats and pays for care for chronically ill patients. Wyden is in line to take over chairmanship of the committee when Sen. Max Baucus is confirmed as U.S. ambassador to China.

The Washington Post: Wyden Bringing His Ambitious Agenda To A Powerful New Post
Sen. Ron Wyden is one of the Senate’s most ambitious dreamers, the prolific author of grand bipartisan plans to improve the health care system and rewrite the tax code. He often wins fervent praise from reformers -- but rarely much political support. That may be about to change. Next month, Wyden (D-Ore.) is expected to take control of the storied Senate Finance Committee. Its current chairman, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), has been nominated to serve as U.S. ambassador to China. So Wednesday, when Wyden unveiled his latest bill, a standing-room-only crowd of lobbyists, aides and reporters packed the Capitol Hill hearing room, hoping to learn which of Wyden’s many controversial ideas would rise to the top of his newly influential agenda (Montgomery, 1/15).

USA Today: Sen. Wyden Unveils Medicare Reform Bill
Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, who's likely to lead one of the Senate's most powerful committees soon, unveiled an ambitious bipartisan bill Wednesday that would overhaul the way older Americans receive care under Medicare and rein in the program's soaring costs. Wyden, in line to become the next chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced the measure on Capitol Hill along with three co-sponsors -- Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Reps. Peter Welch, D-Vt., and Erik Paulsen, R-Minn (Chebium, 1/15).

The Associated Press: Chronic Care Overhaul Proposed For Medicare
They're calling it the Better Care Program. Teams of doctors, nurses and social workers would get a flat fee per Medicare patient, with fewer strings attached. The goal is to improve care coordination, benefiting the patient while moving Medicare away from paying piecemeal for tests and treatments. The legislation is being sponsored by Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., expected to take over leadership of the Finance Committee, which oversees Medicare. Joining Wyden are Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Reps. Erik Paulsen, R-Minn., and Peter Welch, D-Vt. Wyden is calling it "chronic disease reform" (Alonso-Zaldivar, 1/15).

The Hill: Reforms Proposed For Chronically Ill In Medicare
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is proposing a series of reforms to improve how Medicare treats its sickest and most expensive patients. New legislation from Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) and Reps. Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.) and Peter Welch (D-Vt.) would attempt to improve care for chronically ill seniors by revamping how their providers are paid (Viebeck, 1/15).

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