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Author Archives: mshepard

Part A Monthly Premium (For those not automatically enrolled) 0-29 qualifying quarters of employment: $413.00 30-39 quarters: $227.00 Inpatient Hospital Deductible, Per Spell of Illness: $1316.00 Co-pay, Days 1 – 60: $0 Co-pay, Days 61 – 90: $329.00/day Co-pay, Lifetime Reserve Days: $658.00/day Skilled Nursing Facility Co-pay, Days 1 – 20: $0 Co-pay, Days 21 – 100: … Read more

Welcome and Housekeeping  (David Lipschutz, Moderator)  The Election’s Potential Impact on Medicare (David Lipschutz)  Affordable Care Act Medicare Structural Changes Including premium support/vouchers New Nursing Home Requirements of Participation (Toby Edelman) Overview of final rule Positive changes Prohibition against facilities’ use of mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreements and ensuing litigation What’s missing Including staffing requirements Review: … Read more

MOVING FORWARD WITH HOPE It’s no surprise that the election has left many of us worried and disoriented.  But we’ll regroup. We may not understand where we’ve landed, but we’ll acclimate and march forward – with hope. We hope the new administration will realize how today’s families are balancing – often barely – all the … Read more

It’s no surprise that the election has left many of us worried and disoriented.  But we’ll regroup. We may not understand where we’ve landed, but we’ll acclimate and march forward – with hope. We hope the new administration will realize how today’s families are balancing – often barely – all the responsibilities they face at … Read more

In last week’s Alert, we posed 10 questions to ask before deciding between traditional Medicare and a Medicare Advantage Plan. This week we discuss what your answers may mean. Do you qualify for payment assistance or have access to other coverage through any of the following… Medicare Savings Program? Part D Low Income Subsidy? Employer/Military/Other … Read more

As a condition of payment for Medicare home health benefits, a physician must certify that a patient is confined to the home, needs skilled services, receiving the services under a plan of care established and periodically reviewed by a physician, and under the care of the physician.[1]  The Affordable Care Act (ACA) added a requirement … Read more

Mr. P. has been hospitalized after having a heart attack. He also has terminal cancer for which he wants to continue treatment. If Mr. P. is admitted as an inpatient for a total of three days while in the hospital, he can qualify for Medicare Part A coverage of subsequent Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) stay … Read more

Do you qualify for payment assistance or have access to other coverage through any of the following… : Medicare Savings Program? Part D Low Income Subsidy? Employer/Military/Other Insurance? Medigap Plan? Which providers/facilities will you want to use? How important is it to you to continue seeing them? Do they accept Medicare? What Medicare Advantage Plan … Read more

The Center for Medicare Advocacy is grateful to CMS for responding to concerns we and others raised regarding changes to the skilled nursing facility (SNF) coverage standards in the Medicare Benefit Policy Manual. The policy changes, issued this September, misstated and limited nursing home (SNF) coverage and care available under Medicare. For example, the revisions … Read more

In a June 2016 Weekly Alert the Center wrote about a process called “seamless conversion enrollment” used by some insurance companies that offer Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to capture enrollment among their pre-Medicare plan enrollees.  As we noted, “Medicare rules allow MA plan sponsors to ‘develop processes to provide seamless enrollment in an MA plan … Read more

Medicare is commonly known for providing health insurance for older people; however, a significant portion of the program’s beneficiaries are under age 65.[1] Individuals with permanent disabilities and End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) qualify for Medicare before turning 65. This subset of Medicare beneficiaries, who often deal with multiple chronic conditions and serious health complications, … Read more

Election Season continues apace, so it is no surprise that we are hearing all the usual scare-tactics about Medicare – but before you take them at face value, please read this piece from Modern Healthcare: "Predicting Medicare Spending is Hard, Especially If It's In the Future." Modern Healthcare editor Merril Goozner debunks 2016 presidential debate-host Chris … Read more

Fall is the time for Medicare beneficiaries to explore their options regarding traditional Medicare, Part D prescription drug plans and Part C Medicare Advantage plans.  The Annual Coordinated Election Period (ACEP) starts on October 15th and ends on December 7th. This means that Medicare beneficiaries have to analyze their options and make choices by December … Read more

On October 18, 2016, the Social Security Administration announced that the annual cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will increase by only 0.3% in 2017.  Although Medicare premiums won’t be announced until later this Fall, as a result of this small increase to COLA, Part B premiums are projected to increase significantly. A “hold-harmless” provision in the Medicare … Read more

Each year the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services publishes Medicare & You a handbook for those with Medicare and those who will become Medicare beneficiaries.  The handbook offers information on what is important in 2017, as well as a guide to Medicare coverage. A .pdf of Medicare & you is available online at https://www.medicare.gov/pubs/pdf/10050-Medicare-and-You.pdf.

No. 3:15-cv-1468-JAM, filed October 9, 2015 Issue: Whether the extremely high denial rates (98% and higher) at the redetermination and reconsideration stages of administrative review for home health care claims violate the Medicare statute and the Due Process Clause.  Relief sought: Declaratory and injunctive relief requiring the Secretary to correct the existing system of lower … Read more

No. 3:15-cv-01397 (DJS), filed September 22, 2015 Issue: Whether the Secretary violated the Medicare statute and the Due Process Clause by not recognizing that Vitamin B-12 injections represent a per se skilled nursing service and therefore the service should have been covered, and, in general, by failing to recognize the right to coverage for per se … 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

No. 3:14-cv-01230 (D.Conn.), filed August 26, 2014 Issue: Whether the consistent failure of administrative law judges (ALJs) to issue decisions within 90 days of the request for ALJ review (with an average delay now approaching 500 days) violates the Medicare statute and the Due Process Clause. Relief sought: Declaratory and injunctive relief prohibiting the Secretary from … Read more

In light of Hurricane Matthew’s disruptions to beneficiary services, equipment and supplies, we are reissuing these reminders. 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 … Read more

No. 11-cv-17 (D.Vt.), filed January 18, 2011 Issue: Whether the "Improvement Standard", which operates as a rule of thumb to terminate or deny Medicare coverage to beneficiaries who are not improving, violates substantive and procedural requirements of the Medicare statute, the Administrative Procedure Act, and the Freedom of Information Act, and the Due Process Clause of … Read more

No. 14-801 (D.Conn.), filed June 4, 2014 Issue: Whether the Secretary of Health & Human Services’ denial rate of about 98% at the lowest two levels of appeal in Medicare’s system of administrative review (redetermination and reconsideration) violates the Medicare statute and the Due Process Clause. Relief sought: Declaratory and injunctive relief for a Connecticut … Read more

No. 11-1703 (D.Conn.), filed November 3, 2011 Issue: Whether the Secretary's policy of allowing hospitalized Medicare beneficiaries to be placed in "observation status," rather than formally admitting them, deprives them of their Part A coverage in violation of the Medicare statute, the Administrative Procedure Act, the Freedom of Information Act, and the Due Process Clause. … Read more

Abbey, Duane. “Inpatient Versus Outpatient: The Real Issue.” RAC Monitor. 06 March 2014. http://www.racmonitor.com/rac-enews/1618-inpatient-versus-outpatient-the-real-issue.html (site visited September 21, 2016). The author writes that there aren’t any well-established guidelines for Recovery Audit Contractors (RACs) when they review observation-related Medicare appeals. When there are disagreements, RACs can be directed to specific criteria. Unfortunately, Medicare RACs lack such … Read more

In 2014, The New York Times reported that nursing facilities were gaming the Five-Star Quality Rating System on Nursing Home Compare and that “even nursing homes with a history of poor care rate highly in the areas that rely on self-reported data."[1]  The Times reported that nearly two-thirds of 50 facilities on CMS's watch list … Read more

Public coverage of the new nursing home Requirements of Participation (RoPs)[1] – the standards of care that nursing facilities must meet in order to be eligible for reimbursement by the Medicare and Medicaid programs – has focused primarily on their prohibition against facilities’ use of mandatory pre-dispute arbitration agreements.[2]  While advocates for residents applaud this … Read more

For Immediate Release Contact: Toby S. Edelman, Senior Policy Attorney TEdelman@MedicareAdvocacy.org, (202) 293-5760 The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services has just released a comprehensive revision of federal nursing facility regulations.   The regulations and explanatory material (over 700 pages total) are available here.  The positives for nursing facility residents include expanded training requirements, and a … Read more

Can we talk about fraud? It exists. It’s not good for Medicare. Efforts to eliminate its damage to the program are necessary.  But CMS’ war on fraud seems to be indiscriminate, full of tactical errors and collateral damage. Rather than carefully targeting the perpetrators of fraud, a wide net is cast, resulting in legitimate claims … Read more

This summer, the New York Times article “New Medicare Law to Notify Patients of Loophole in Nursing Home Coverage”* told the story of one of many people who contact the Center for Medicare Advocacy for help with hospital “outpatient” Observation Status. These patients stayed in the hospital for multiple days receiving skilled care, but were coded … Read more

Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore, introduced the Medicare Affordability and Enrollment Act on Wednesday, September 21, 2016. The Bill would improve low-income protections for beneficiaries, eliminate the two-year waiting period for people with disabilities to enroll in Medicare, and reduce late enrollment penalties. The Center for Medicare Advocacy strongly endorses the Bill. … Read more

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), signed into law in 2010, was enacted to increase the quality and affordability of health care and lower the rate of uninsured by expanding private and public health insurance.  One mechanism the ACA established to achieve this goal was the creation of health insurance “Exchanges” – regulated online marketplaces where … Read more

 

Note:  The amounts in this table do not apply to beneficiaries who have the Part D Low Income Subsidy (“Extra Help”) Annual Deductible Maximum $400 Initial Coverage Period Cost sharing during this period may be a flat 25% co-insurance OR the plan may have a tiered system of co-pays and co-insurance that is actuarially equivalent … Read more

As we have reported, the Center has been hearing more and more about people who meet Medicare criteria but cannot obtain, or retain, necessary home health care ordered by their physicians. In particular, people living with long-term and debilitating conditions such as ALS, MS, paralysis and Parkinson’s disease find themselves without necessary home care. For … Read more

As part of the Center's Home Health Access Initiative, we are collecting stories from beneficiaries and caregivers who have had difficulty obtaining necessary home health care as ordered by their doctor. Please share your story below! <a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.eSurveysPro.com/Survey.aspx?id=b17a6403-cedd-4ee9-ba6d-9aa0f453ad2a" href="http://www.eSurveysPro.com/Survey.aspx?id=b17a6403-cedd-4ee9-ba6d-9aa0f453ad2a" target=_blank>Click here to take the survey now</a>. The survey was created with eSurveysPro.com <a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.eSurveysPro.com" href="http://www.eSurveysPro.com" … Read more

The Center for Medicare Advocacy has been hearing from people who meet Medicare coverage criteria but are unable to access Medicare-covered home health care, or the appropriate amount of care.   In particular, people living with long-term and debilitating conditions find themselves facing significant access problems. For example, patients have been told Medicare will only … Read more

National Medicare Advocates Alliance Issue Brief #41, September 2016 LITIGATION UPDATE Barrows v. Burwell (formerly Bagnall v. Sebelius), No. 3:11-cv-1703 (D. Conn.) (Observation Status). In November 2011, the Center for Medicare Advocacy and Justice in Aging filed a class action lawsuit on behalf of individuals who have been denied Medicare Part A coverage of hospital … Read more

Welcome and Housekeeping  (David Lipschutz, Moderator)  Litigation Update   (Ali Bers) Jimmo (Improvement standard) Court order for additional education issued August 18, 2016 Exley (formerly Lessler) (ALJ Delay Case) Settlement approved August 1, 2016 Sherman (Lower level Medicare appeals) Defendant’s motion to dismiss denied, class certification granted August 8, 2016 Bremby (Per se skilled services) Coverage … Read more

Effective September 6, 2016, and as required by the Federal Civil Penalties Inflation Adjustment Act Improvements Act of 2015 (§701 of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, Pub. L. 114-74),[1] the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published interim final rules updating, to account for inflation, civil money penalties (CMPs) that are imposed for … Read more

Pursuant to the settlement agreement in Exley v. Burwell, a class action brought by the Center to address delays in appeals at the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ ) level, the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA) has established a new help line to troubleshoot beneficiary appeals.  In a September 1, 2016 announcement, OMHA introduced … Read more

When: Thursday, September 15, 2016 2 – 3 p.m. EST Costly mistakes and service disruptions are common for people under 65 transitioning onto or off of Medicare from Marketplace plans, Medicaid, or other insurance. Join Justice in Aging’s Directing Attorney Georgia Burke and the Center for Medicare Advocacy’s Associate Director Kathleen Holt to explore common … Read more

Thank you for taking the time to complete our survey. Your response will help us determine how to best meet the unique needs of Medicare beneficiaries under age 65 who need assistance with Medicare enrollment and other issues.

Prescription Drug Pricing An excellent and well-timed (given #Epi-gate) article appeared in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association discussing the reason drug costs are so high in the U.S. According to the article, the major cause is the “granting of government-protected monopolies to drug manufacturers, combined with restriction of price negotiation at a … Read more

The Center recently submitted comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regarding the following proposed rules. Appeals Since 1986, the Center has represented thousands of Medicare beneficiaries seeking coverage of health care and services through the Medicare administrative appeals process.  As discussed in previous CMA Alerts, the Center has advocated for our … Read more

<a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.eSurveysPro.com/Survey.aspx?id=8588f152-de28-42a0-82fd-09d8b0aff1ff" href="http://www.eSurveysPro.com/Survey.aspx?id=8588f152-de28-42a0-82fd-09d8b0aff1ff" target=_blank>Click here to take the survey now</a>. The survey was created with eSurveysPro.com <a data-cke-saved-href="http://www.eSurveysPro.com" href="http://www.eSurveysPro.com" target='_blank' title='Online survey software'>survey software</a>.

The National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD), part of the National Institutes of Health, is launching the Transdisciplinary Collaborative Centers (TCC) for Health Disparities Research on Chronic Disease Prevention program. This program responds to the need for more robust, ecological approaches to address chronic diseases among racial and ethnic minority groups, under-served … Read more

August 29, 2016 Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals Department of Health & Human Services Attention: HHS-2015-49 5201 Leesberg Pike, Suite 1300 Falls Church, VA 22041  Submitted electronically to: www.regulations.gov Re: HHS-2015-49 To Whom It May Concern: The Center for Medicare Advocacy (the Center) is pleased to provide the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) … Read more

August 26, 2016 Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Department of Health and Human Services Attention: CMS-1648-P P.O. Box 8016 Baltimore, Maryland  21244-8016 Submitted electronically to: http://www.regulations.gov Re:      Federal Register Volume 81 No. 128 Medicare and Medicaid Programs: CY 2017 Home Health Prospective Payment System Rate Update; Home Health Value-Based Purchasing Model; and Home … Read more

The Center for Medicare Advocacy has been hearing about people who clearly meet Medicare criteria but are unable to access home health care ordered by their physicians. In particular, people living with long-term and debilitating conditions find themselves without necessary home care. For example, they have been told Medicare will only cover 1 to 5 … Read more