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For Immediate Release Contact: Judith Stein, 860-456-7790
December 14, 2010  

Thirty-six national, state and local advocacy organizations, individual advocates and legal scholars released a letter to Secretary Kathleen Sebelius yesterday, seeking strong beneficiary protections for any combined Medicare-Medicaid models to be tested by the Secretary under authority of the Affordable Care Act's new Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovations (CMMI).  Noting the particular frailty and vulnerability of those beneficiaries dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid, one of the groups targeted by the new CMMI authority, the signers said they "do not favor" a model that would give states both Medicare and Medicaid dollars to manage and oversee.

"States are used to running programs that have a lot of flexibility in their design; we are concerned about protecting the universality of the Medicare program in a combined Medicare-Medicaid model and believe protection of beneficiaries' rights would become even more complex than it already is," said Judith Stein, Executive Director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, one of the signers of the documents.

Another signer of the documents, Tim Westmoreland, former Medicaid Director at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and currently a professor at the O’Neill Institute on Health Law at Georgetown University, said "In any model that would give Medicare dollars to the states, we must ensure that the states chosen have been good stewards of their Medicaid dollars."

"Dually eligible individuals are – and must remain – Medicare beneficiaries first. Giving Medicare dollars to the states to manage and oversee runs the risk of undermining fundamental Medicare protections," says signer Judy Feder, a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress who served in the Clinton Administration.

The coalition's letter and its accompanying recommendations ask the Secretary to write regulations governing all aspects of the work of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovations, in order to protect people with Medicare and/or Medicaid.

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