WELShift In the News - Article Detail


Improving Care for America’s Seniors 9/1/2014 By: Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick

As our population ages and more American transition to long-term care (LTC), it is in our compassionate nation’s fiscal interests to ensure that care can be delivered in the best possible manner.


With this in mind, I introduced the Medicare Residential Care Coordination Demonstration Project [H.R. 2376].


This bipartisan legislation allows for trials in our communities of the latest models of care-coordination and disease management in a residential setting, such as Continuing Care Retirement Communities, like Wesley Enhanced Living, where models such as WELShift in my district could yield promising results.


The United States spends more than $200 billion per year on a long-term care (LTC)system that provides inadequate financial protection for the elderly and relies heavily on government funding. Most individuals pay for LTC out of their personal savings until they qualify for Medicaid, which offers few choices other than institutionalism. An increasing body of clinical evidence shows that coordinated care in a residential setting has the potential to dramatically lower the barriers to care and reduce the overall cost of healthcare.


Additionally, the healthcare system inadequately manages the healthcare costs of people with LTC needs. Seniors deserve models of care that reflect the new reality that most Medicare spending goes toward chronic care, not acute care. As these patients move across multiple healthcare and LTC settings, their care lacks the consistency that both seniors and healthcare professional desire.


As Congress seeks out ways to fund the repeal and replacement of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR), legislators, stakeholders and members of the medical community have begun to develop proposals that would create incentives for better care coordination and provide individuals with new LTC finance options. These proposals have included policies such as post-acute and hospital bundling, the medical home model, and a new social insurance program to finance LTC that would be available to working age Americans.


Congress must act now to support medical professionals and caregivers as they work hard to provide cost-effective and accurate treatments to their patients. I look forward to working with my colleagues and local professionals to ensure the continuity and sustainability of the Medicare program.


Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick is serving his third term in the U.S. House of Representatives. He represents Pennsylvania’s 8th district which includes all of Bucks County as well as a portion of Montgomery County. He serves as the Vice Chairman of the House Financial Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.