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Author Archives: mshepard

The Chair of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO), Max Richtman, sent a letter to Senators today urging support of the “Protecting Medicare Beneficiaries Act of 2015” S. 2148. This legislation would keep the 2016 premiums and deductible stable for all Medicare beneficiaries, by protecting the premiums of the 30% of beneficiaries who will … Read more

On October 8, 2015 the Center for Medicare Advocacy filed a complaint with the Office of Civil Rights regarding Proposed Local Coverage Determination (LCD) DL 33787.  This proposed LCD would unfairly and illegally restrict Medicare coverage for beneficiaries in need of lower limb prostheses. The complaint was filed on behalf of Dr. Roger Catlin, an … Read more

Proposed LCD DL 33787 unfairly and illegally restricts Medicare coverage for, and discriminates against, Dr. Roger Catlin, an above-knee amputee who wears an elevated vacuum socket, micro-processor knee and energy storing foot. Dr. Catlin breaks all assumptions the proposed LCD makes about his co-morbidities related to his functional potential. He ambulates independently, runs a tractor, … Read more

Based on recent experience, the Center for Medicare Advocacy provides this Practice Tip for providers and advocates for patients who need to change from an improvement mode to maintenance mode for nursing or therapy. The Center is seeing decisions from Medicare Contractors requiring that providers obtain new orders when a patient’s goals change to maintenance … Read more

Your support for Medicare is crucial. If you haven't already, get your friends and family involved too! Send them this link and encourage them to write to their senators now: http://org.salsalabs.com/o/777/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=18543. And, if you would like to help us continue to fight for the rights of Medicare beneficiaries, please make a donation today. Thank you.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently rolled out a web-based resource for employers to help them assist employees with obtaining information about transitioning to Medicare coverage.  This resource is part of a broader, concerted effort on the part of CMS and the Social Security Administration (SSA) to improve the information available to … Read more

This week, the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report entitled “Medicare Advantage: Actions Needed to Enhance CMS Oversight of Provider Network Adequacy” (August 2015, publicly released September 28, 2015).  This report reviews how the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) ensures adequate access to care for Medicare Advantage (MA) enrollees. The report was … Read more

According to the 2015 Medicare Trustees Report, Part B premiums are expected to increase for 30% of beneficiaries by 52% – from $104.90 to $159.30 per month. The trustees also predict that this increase will be accompanied by an increase in the Part B deductible—up to $223 from $147. These are projections; the final numbers … Read more

Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete our recent Jimmo Implementation Council survey. We are writing to provide a summary of the results and the status of our efforts. In summary, there is enthusiasm for staying in touch and continuing to work together to advance implementation of the Jimmo Settlement.  96% of … Read more

On July 16, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published proposed rules to revise the nursing home Requirements of Participation (RoPs) – the federal rules that govern the standards of care that facilities must meet in order to participate in the Medicare or Medicaid programs, or both.[1]  At the request of many … Read more

On September 1, 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued an announcement concerning a demonstration called the Medicare Advantage (MA) Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) model. (See: http://innovation.cms.gov/Files/x/mavbid-announcement.pdf.)  As described by CMS, Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) “generally refers to health insurers’ efforts to structure enrollee cost-sharing and other health plan design elements to … Read more

September 15, 2015 Submitted electronically Sheila Hanley Director, Policy and Programs Group Center for Medicare & Medicaid Innovation Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services HealthPlanInnovation@cms.hhs.gov RE: Medicare Advantage (MA) Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Model The Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc., (Center) appreciates the opportunity to provide comments in response to the recently announced Medicare Advantage … Read more

Social Security now offers a convenient online service for Medicare beneficiaries who have lost, damaged, or otherwise need to replace their Medicare cards. Through his or her my Social Security account, a beneficiary can now easily order a replacement Medicare card. A my Social Security account only takes a few minutes to set up, and offers several … Read more

In collaboration with a number of other advocacy organizations, this week the Center for Medicare Advocacy submitted comments to CMS about two sets of proposed rules: Revisions to Payment Policies Under the Physician Fee Schedule and Other Revisions to Part B for CY 2016 (CMS-1631-P) The Center’s comments primarily focus on expressing strong support for … Read more

On September 8, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of Minority Health (CMS OMH) introduced an Equity Plan for Improving Quality in Medicare.  Aimed at eliminating health disparities experienced by underserved populations, the plan focuses on six priority areas and seeks to reduce health disparities in four years. A Press Release … Read more

September 8, 2015 Andy Slavitt, Acting Administrator Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Department of Health and Human Services Attention: CMS-1631-P P.O. Box 8016 Baltimore, MD 21244-8016 Delivered Electronically through www.regulations.gov Re: Medicare Program; Revisions to Payment Policies Under the Physician Fee Schedule and Other Revisions to Part B for CY 2016  Administrator Slavitt: The … Read more

September 8, 2015 Andy Slavitt Acting Administrator Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Attention: CMS-5516-P 7500 Security Boulevard Baltimore, MD 21244-1850 Delivered Electronically through www.regulations.gov Re: Medicare Program; Comprehensive Care for Joint Replacement Payment Model for Acute Care Hospitals Furnishing Lower Extremity Joint Replacement Services (CMS-5516-P) Administrator Slavitt: … Read more

Harmful Changes to Lower Limb Prostheses Coverage Too Much Reliance on “Improvement” in the Proposed Home Health Value-Based Purchasing (HHVBP) Model Proposed Revisions to the 2-Midnight Rule Won’t Make Any Significant Change 1. Harmful Changes to Lower Limb Prostheses Coverage The Center recently called for the elimination of a proposed local coverage determination (LCD) that … Read more

ADMINISTRATIVE UPDATE 1. Proposed Requirements of Participation for Nursing Facilities On July 16, 2015, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published proposed rules to revise the nursing home Requirements of Participation (RoPs) – the federal rules that govern the standards of care that facilities must meet in order to participate in the Medicare … Read more

Welcome and Housekeeping  (David Lipschutz, Moderator)  Administrative Update    Proposed Requirements of Participation for Nursing Facilities (Toby Edelman) Overview of Proposed Rule – 80 Fed. Reg. 41267 (July 16, 2015) Center’s Draft Comments (now due October 14, 2015) Update on 2016 Part B Premiums and Deductibles (David Lipschutz) Medicare Trustees Report and next steps Access … Read more

If you are eligible for Medicare you can chose between getting your Medicare benefits through traditional Medicare (also commonly referred to as original Medicare) or a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan.  Making this choice is personal and requires that you consider your circumstances, including your health, your desire for flexibility, your budget and your tolerance for … Read more

September 1, 2015 SUBMITTED ELECTRONICALLY http://www.regulations.gov Andrew Slavitt, Acting Administrator Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Department of Health & Human Services 200 Independence Avenue, SW Washington, DC 20201 Re: CMS-1625-P Dear Acting Administrator Slavitt: The Center for Medicare Advocacy (the Center) is pleased to provide comments on the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services … Read more

August 31, 2015 Stacey Brennan, M.D. DME MAC Medical Director National Government Services 8115 Knue Road Indianapolis, Indiana  46250 Submitted Electronically to: DMAC_DRAFT_LCD_Comments@anthem.com Re: Proposed Draft LCD on Lower Limb Prostheses (DL33787) Dear Dr. Brennan: The Center for Medicare Advocacy (Center) appreciates the opportunity to provide the following comments regarding the proposed draft LCD on … Read more

CMS-1633-P, Medicare Program: Hospital Outpatient Prospective Payment and Ambulatory Surgical Center Payment Systems and Quality Reporting Programs; Short Inpatient Hospital Stays; Transition for Certain Medicare-Dependent, Small Rural Hospitals Under the Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment System Andy Slavitt Acting Administrator Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Department of Health and Human Services Room 445-G, Hubert H. … Read more

The Center for Medicare Advocacy is concerned that Medicare beneficiaries are being denied Medicare coverage for skilled services that are specifically listed as covered by Medicare in federal regulations. Medicare covers various skilled therapies (physical, speech–language pathology and occupational) and skilled nursing services, including observation and assessment, management and evaluation of a care plan, or … Read more

A recent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) report, Access to Care Issues Among Qualified Medicare Beneficiaries (QMB), revealed several access to care problems for low-income Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the QMB program. The report analyzed two studies focused on access to care for low-income beneficiaries. The first study utilized qualitative interviews with beneficiaries … Read more

Hospitals often classify hospitalized Medicare patients as outpatients, even though their hospital care may be indistinguishable from the care they would receive if they were formally admitted as inpatients.  This issue – called Observation Status – has been a serious problem for Medicare beneficiaries for many years,[1] chiefly because patients who do not have at … Read more

9 Facts About Social Security, a recent blog post by Jason Furman, Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, and Jeff Zients, Director of the National Economic Council, identifies nine important accomplishments for our aging society and for persons with disabilities. Social Security forms the foundation for retirement security through universal, guaranteed benefits. Social Security … Read more

This photo of the signing of the Social Security Act was sent to us by a friend of the Center whose father received it, signed, from President Roosevelt’s son. When President Franklin Roosevelt signed the Social Security Act into law on August 14, 1935, older people and their families entered a new era of financial … Read more

Another Barrier for Jimmo implementation that may not yet have percolated to the top is the Medicare fee schedule rates for rehabilitation services negatively impacting providers willingness to not only risk providing services for fear of denials and recoupments, but also because payment rates may not sufficiently cover expenses with current and pending Medicare fee schedule … Read more

The Center for Medicare Advocacy received an e-mail inquiry from an individual requesting assistance advocating for her sister, Mrs. B.  Mrs. B is a Medicare beneficiary enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan and in need of home health services.  The questions raised demonstrate several important issues that often arise with both the home health benefit … Read more

Medicare pays for a limited number of Part B services furnished by a physician or practitioner to an eligible beneficiary via a telecommunications system. For eligible telehealth services, the use of a telecommunications system substitutes for an in-person encounter. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) as psychotherapy via telemental health is covered by Medicare for certain eligible … Read more

An increasing number of patients in hospitals are not formally admitted as inpatients, but as “outpatients” on “observation status.”  Although they receive whatever medical and nursing care, diagnostic tests, medications, and food they need, their status as “outpatients” means that they do not satisfy the three-day inpatient hospital prerequisite for Medicare coverage of post-acute care … Read more

Over the past week, problems with Medicare coverage of Speech Generating Devices (SGDs) have been favorably addressed through both final Administrative and Congressional action. Prior to these actions, Medicare only covered SGDs to generate face-to-face speech, excluding other forms of communication such as by email, phone or text.  Medicare had also changed the payment category … Read more

As a retired speech/language pathologist I have intimate knowledge of the benefits and need to increase eligibility for services.In my professional capacity, I would often evaluate a dementia or Alzeheimer patient who was experiencing severe difficulty eating and swallowing, which is common as these diseases progress.Many would cough or choke during a meal, thus their … Read more

The 50th anniversary of Medicare has given us an opportunity to reflect on all it has accomplished to advance the health and well-being of families throughout the country. It also reminds us what could have been better – and what could still be improved. We are thankful for the vision and fortitude of President Johnson … Read more

July 29, 2015 – The 50th anniversary of Medicare (July 30) gives us an opportunity to reflect on all it has accomplished to advance the health and well-being of families throughout the country. It also reminds us what could have been better – and what could be improved. We are thankful for the vision and … Read more

A.P., Washington State I have a pre-existing condition (Epilepsy) and if it wasn't for Medicare, I don't think I could afford the medications needed to control it. __________ L.F., Colorado Medicare has helped me in so many ways! It helped to pay for my pacemaker, plus doctor visits, medicine etc Us older folks that are on … Read more

While the Medicare Act covers physical, speech, and occupational therapies in various community-based and facility settings, coverage is often denied or inappropriately limited.  Most often, this is because the individual requires therapy to maintain her condition, or slow deterioration. When an individual is not going to improve, providers too often decline to provide therapy or … Read more

By T.P., PhD, a Medicare Beneficiary from Ohio I would like to express my view that it would be cheaper and more efficient for all to have drug coverage as part of Medicare itself and not as a separate plan handled by private insurance companies. In addition, if the government can negotiate drug prices for … Read more

By Max Richtman, President & CEO National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare As we celebrate Medicare’s 50th anniversary, it’s important to remember that one of Medicare’s most important hallmarks is the program’s long and successful history of adapting to the changing demographic and health security needs of America’s seniors.  Ten thousand Americans turn … Read more

When a Medicare beneficiary lives in an area that has been declared an emergency or disaster by the President, a Governor, or the Secretary of Health and Human Services, the usual Medicare rules for coverage and related concerns may be changed in order to assist those in need.  Below you will find specific information, if … Read more

Medicare Trustees Report – Medicare Part A Solvency Remains Stable On July 22, 2015, the Medicare and Social Security Trustees issued the 2015 Annual Report of the Boards of Trustees of the Federal Hospital Insurance Trust Fund and the Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund. Good News: In short, the projected solvency of the Part … Read more

By D.C., California Last October I awoke early one morning with a severe pain radiating from my abdomen to my back. I had never had a pain quite like this before. I had recently moved, and my new primary care physician was not available. I had had a gastroenterology evaluation for acid reflux (negative) a … Read more

By Lisa Hall, Appeals Administrator, Center for Medicare Advocacy   After beginning to work for Medicare beneficiaries, I was amazed to realize that Medicare, which is a federal health care insurance that we are all entitled to and count on being there for us one day, spends so much time, money and energy trying to … Read more

By L.S., a Medicare Beneficiary from New York Medicare has kept my family from being homeless. My husband had three different kinds of cancer, with surgery and radiation. He had three necessary replacements – hip and both knees and he had to have back surgery. Medicare took care of all the bills. There is absolutely no … Read more

One of the most fundamental rights set out in the Constitution is the right to due process of law when government action harms an individual. “Due process” means both notice and an opportunity to be heard. In other words, individuals are entitled to be informed about a government action, as well as their right to … Read more

No. 14-1519 (APM) (D.D.C.), filed Sept. 5, 2014 Amicus information: Amici are the Center and the National Health Law Program.  They are supporting the claim of Medicare beneficiaries that they should be covered for a form of testing that would assist in the diagnosis of patients suffering from dementia. Issues: Whether a diagnostic test (PET … Read more

No. 3:15-cv-00390-JBA (D.Conn.), filed March 17, 2015 Issue: Whether extraordinary dental care should be covered because the exclusion for coverage of dental care should be limited to routine dental care. Relief Sought: Reversal of the Secretary’s decision denying coverage to the plaintiff and enjoining the Secretary from relying on a regulation that does not define … Read more

No. 5:14-cv-269 (D.Vt.), filed Dec. 19, 2014 Issue: Whether the failure of the Secretary to apply the “prior favorable homebound decision” rule, which accords “great weight” to previous administrative decisions establishing homebound status, violates the Medicare regulations, as implemented by the Medicare Program Integrity Manual, and the Due Process Clause. Relief Sought: Declaratory and injunctive … Read more