Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., (left) and Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, got the Chronic Care Act bill through the Senate Finance Committee with a 26-0 vote. (Photo: House)

Members of the Senate Finance Committee showed their ability to work together Thursday by voting 26-0 to approve S. 870, a bill that could make Medicare better for people with chronic health problems.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, the committee chairman, and Sen. Ron Wyden, R-Ore., the highest ranking Democrat, said they started developing the bill to try to return to a friendlier, less partisan drafting process.

(Related: Senators Use Chronic Care Bill to Mend Fences)

The resulting legislation, S. 870, the Creating High-Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic Care Act of 2017, includes what the drafters see as inexpensive, uncontroversial tweaks in Medicare rules.

For insurance agents in the long-term care planning market or the Medicare Advantage plan market, one of the most interesting provisions might be Section 302.

The Medicare Advantage program gives insurers a chance to sell plans that serve as an alternative to traditional Medicare coverage. In an effort to help consumers shop for the plans on an apples-to-apples basis, the program sets strict rules governing what kinds of basic benefits issuers must provide, and what kinds of supplemental benefits the issuers can provide.

Starting in 2020, Section 302 of the Medicare bill would give Advantage plan issuers a chance to add new types of benefits aimed at people with chronic health problems.

The new benefits would be “supplemental benefits that, with respect to a chronically ill enrollee, have a reasonable expectation of improving or maintaining the health or overall function of the chronically ill enrollee and may not be limited to being primarily health-related benefits,” according to the bill text.

— Read 5 Senate Finance Chronic-Care Proposal Basics on ThinkAdvisor.