Chronic Illness: Addressing Patients' Unmet Needs, Hearing Before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance, One Hundred Thirteenth Congress, Second Session, July 15, 2014   [open pdf - 1MB]

This testimony compilation is from the July 15, 2014 hearing on "Chronic Illness" held before the U.S. Senate Committee on Finance. From the opening statement of Ron Wyden: "Today the Finance Committee focuses its attention on what, in my view, is the biggest challenge ahead for Medicare and the future of America's health care system: managing chronic illness. To understand why this is a growing issue, take a look at how Medicare has changed over time. When Medicare started, it was mostly about caring for seniors who needed to go to the hospital. If a senior slipped on the kitchen floor and broke an ankle, for example, they'd head to the hospital, get treatment, and head home. In 1970, nearly 70 percent of Medicare spending was for hospital care. Now, that number is closer to 40 percent. This change shows that Medicare is very different today than it was four decades ago. Rather than broken ankles or pneumonia, Medicare is now dominated by chronic conditions such as a cancer, diabetes and heart disease. More than two-thirds of Medicare beneficiaries are now dealing with multiple chronic conditions. Their care accounts for almost all -- 93 percent -- of Medicare spending. It's not just seniors who are affected by chronic disease. Half of all American adults have at least one chronic condition. These diseases account for 70 percent of deaths, limit the activities of tens of millions more Americans, and cost the economy billions each year. The problem is only getting worse as chronic illnesses become more common. In fact some experts have warned that this generation could be the first in modern times to have shorter lifespans than their parents." Statements, letters, and materials submitted for the record include those of the following: Stephanie Dempsey, Mary Margaret Lehmann, William A. Bornstein, Cheryl DeMars, and Chet Burrell.

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