Dear C-TAC Member,
We congratulate President-elect Donald J. Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence on their victory last Tuesday and look forward to working with the new Administration and the 115th Congress to advance our collective vision that all Americans living with advanced illness, especially the sickest and most frail, receive high-quality, person- and family-centered care that honors their dignity and respects their values.
Despite the prospect for political and policy change in the coming months and years, the need to significantly improve care for the millions of Americans facing advanced illness remains. According to the Institute of Medicine’s report, Dying in America, by 2050, 20 percent of Americans will be over age 65. With greater longevity comes a greater chance for illness, two-thirds of the US population aged 65 and older live with serious, multiple chronic conditions. This cannot be ignored.
As you know, C-TAC and its members have worked tirelessly to develop the clinical evidence base to support innovative models of care for those with serious illness, to engage communities across the country in a conversation about advanced illness care, and to develop and advocate for bipartisan federal and state policy solutions to improve care for this population. We remain optimistic and steadfast in our mission to continue to improve the lives of millions of seriously ill Americans and their families.
The time to act is now. With this in mind, we offer the following observations that will guide our future work:
1. Our Demographic Challenges Remain. Over 10,000 seniors are entering Medicare every day. In 2000, Americans aged 65 and older represented 12.4 percent of the population. This grew to 13 percent in 2010 and is projected to be almost 20 percent in 2050 (IOM, Dying in America, Table 1-4).
2. Our Bipartisan Policy Solutions Will Shape Future Progress. C-TAC has worked tirelessly to cultivate bipartisan, bicameral support for improved care delivery with congressional leaders. As Former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist said at our recent National Summit: “There has been eight years of nearly unprecedented progress on bipartisan legislation.”
3. Our Common Mission is Grounded in our Shared Experience. During a Capitol Hill Briefing in February 2016, Representative Phil Roe (R-TN) shared his personal experiences, demonstrating the importance of advance care planning and poignantly reminded us that “this is not a Republican or Democrat issue, this is about people.”
4. Our Work is not Complete. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) historic decision to reimburse providers for comprehensive, voluntary advance care planning discussions with persons and their families, regarding care goals and preferences, was an important first step in ensuring that Medicare beneficiaries have the opportunity to document their goals, values, and wishes for the care they receive. However, a recent poll conducted by The John A. Hartford Foundation found that less than 29 percent of the physicians surveyed had received any formal training on how to have these conversations with patients and families. We must continue the work to provide the foundations and supports needed.
5. Our Commitment to Work Together is the Foundation for Future Success. C-TAC now has over 140 national organizations and countless individuals engaged and committed to improving advanced illness care for millions of Americans. Our continued collaboration and shared goals will serve as our greatest asset to achieving success.
We look forward to continuing to work closely with the new Administration, the new Congress, and you – our members – in 2017 and well beyond.