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Author Archives: mshepard

In September 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)[1] reported that the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care had reduced the use of antipsychotic drugs with nursing home residents by 15.1%, “exceeding” the Partnership’s 15% drug reduction goal for long-stay residents.  That claim of success was overstated.  When CMS originally announced the initial … Read more

Two-Thirds of Nursing Facilities Nationwide Will See Decline In their Quality Measures; One-Third of Facilities Will See Decline in Their Overall Score As promised in October 2014,[1] the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has made significant changes to Nursing Home Compare, effective February 20, 2015.  The changes recalibrate the Quality Measures (QMs), add … Read more

On February 12, 2015, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published final rules entitled “Medicare Program; Contract Year 2016 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit Programs” [CMS-4159-F2], otherwise known as the final 2016 rules for Medicare Parts C and D.[1] Applicable to the 2016 plan … Read more

When Medicare was enacted in 1965, it covered only older people – those 65-years old or more. In 1972, Congress added coverage for people with long-term disabilities, recognizing that like older people, they were often unable to obtain health insurance. To limit the cost of covering this new cohort, Congress added a 24-month waiting period before … Read more

As originally enacted, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) required each state to expand Medicaid eligibility to 138 % of the Federal Poverty Level.  However, the 2012 U.S. Supreme Court’s decision National Federation of Independent Business v. Sebelius, changed that.  The National Federation decision gives states the option to accept federal funds, reject the funds altogether and … Read more

For half a century our nation, through Medicare, has made a sacred trust, a promise to our seniors. A promise which says that after a lifetime of hard work and paying into the system, they could enjoy the dignity of a secure retirement that includes quality, accessible health care. This is a promise that every … Read more

On Monday, February 2nd, President Obama unveiled his Fiscal Year 2016 Budget.[1]  For an overview of the budget’s Medicare-related provisions, including both projected costs and savings to the Medicare program, see the Kaiser Family Foundation’s summary.[2] With respect to Medicare, this year’s proposed budget is very similar to last year’s, both good and bad, with … Read more

Elizabeth Duckrow began her professional career as a first grade teacher in San Pedro Sula, Honduras and ended it 38 years later as a school counselor in New Haven, Connecticut. During these years, Mrs. Duckrow worked with a variety of different and diverse school populations: In Falls Church, Virginia as a Crisis Intervention Counselor, in … Read more

(Steve Gleason, on living with ALS and utilizing a speech generating device.) The Steve Gleason Act of 2015, recently introduced in the House and the Senate, is a good first step toward ensuring continuous Medicare coverage for individuals who qualify for Durable Medical Equipment (DME) serving as speech generating devices (SGD) and for accessories that … Read more

January 20, 2015 The Honorable Fred Upton, Chairman Energy & Commerce Committee United States House of Representatives ​Washington, DC  20515 The Honorable Frank Pallone, Ranking Member Energy & Commerce Committee United States House of Representatives                       ​Washington, DC  20515  The Honorable Joe Pitts, Chairman Energy & Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Health United States House of … Read more