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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

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

In an Opinion and Order released on August 18, 2016, Chief Judge Christina Reiss, the judge in Jimmo v. Burwell – the “Improvement Standard case” – ordered the federal government, through its Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), to comply with the Settlement Agreement that she approved in January 2013. The Order requires CMS to remedy … Read more

On Friday August 19, 2016, the Center for Medicare Advocacy submitted comments in response to a June 30 request from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for information regarding Durable Medical Equipment (DME) access issues faced by individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.[1] The letter, signed by almost 80 organizations, … Read more

Under the federal Nursing Home Reform Law, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has authority and the “responsibility”[1] to impose Civil Money Penalties (CMPs) and other enforcement actions at nursing homes that are found to violate federal standards of care (which are called Requirements of Participation).[2]  For the first time in more than … Read more

On August 8, a federal judge in Connecticut largely denied the government’s motion to dismiss and granted plaintiff’s motion for certification of a nationwide class. Sherman v. Burwell, No. 3:15-cv-1468 (JAM) (D. Conn.). The case challenges the fact that, for the last several years, decisions at the earliest two levels of appeal in the Medicare administrative process … Read more

The Center for Medicare Advocacy was pleased to attend, exhibit and present at this year's national SHIP and SMP conference. Pursuant to a Target Population Grant from the Administration for Community Living (ACL), the Center is working to enhance outreach and education for younger Medicare beneficiaries.  At the conference, we discussed progress and next-steps in … Read more

Justice in Aging, one of the Center's longtime partners, recently released an issue brief, Oral Health in California: What About Older Adults? The Issue Brief includes a summary of the state of oral health for older adults in California. It cites disparities in oral health based on income level, education and race. The Brief also outlines the … Read more

An August 7, 2016 New York Times article once again highlighted the problem of hospital Observation Status, including issues with the NOTICE Act, which is supposed to help Medicare beneficiaries understand their status. The article, New Medicare Law to Notify Patients of Loophole in Nursing Home Coverage, featured a Center For Medicare Advocacy client's story. In the piece, Center Executive Director Judith … Read more

Beginning August 6, 2016, the Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act (NOTICE Act)[1] requires hospitals to provide written and oral notice, within 36 hours, to patients who are in observation or other outpatient status for more than 24 hours.  The notice must explain the reason that the patient is an outpatient … Read more

On August 1, 2016, Judge Jeffrey Meyer of U.S. District Court in Connecticut granted final approval to a settlement agreement that will ensure timely decisions for Medicare beneficiaries who appeal denials of coverage to Administrative Law Judges (ALJs). The nationwide class action, Exley v. Burwell, 3:14-CV-1230, was brought by six individuals who waited longer than … Read more

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently released research drawn from the 2013-14 National Health Interview Survey highlighting health disparities between LGBT and other older people (age 65 or older). The National Health Interview Survey is a wide-ranging survey conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics … Read more

Jul 19, 2016 by Gretchen Jacobson and Tricia Neuman This Issue Brief, available at http://kff.org/medicare/issue-brief/turning-medicare-into-a-premium-support-system-frequently-asked-questions/, is an excellent breakdown of what a "Premium Support" structure – also referred to as "Defined Contributions" or "Vouchers"  – would mean for Medicare and Medicare beneficiaries. Topics addressed include: What is premium support? How could a premium support system for Medicare affect beneficiaries’ premiums … Read more

Hospice care is holistic care for the dying.  Medicare coverage of hospice care is available for beneficiaries who have been certified as terminally ill, for services that are “reasonable and necessary for the palliation or management of the terminal illness as well as related conditions.”  Prior to receiving Medicare coverage for hospice care, beneficiaries must … Read more

In order for Medicare Part A to pay for a patient’s stay in a skilled nursing facility (SNF), the patient must first have spent at least three consecutive days as an inpatient in an acute care hospital.[1]  For many Medicare beneficiaries, Part A SNF coverage is denied because the hospital classifies the stay as Outpatient … Read more

Platform Side-by-Side Suggested Medicare/Healthcare Priorities Language Originally Submitted to Platform Committee The two major American political parties have released their 2016 party platforms in anticipation of their respective party conventions and the upcoming general election. Given the importance of health care in this upcoming election, the Center for Medicare Advocacy has done an initial analysis … Read more

If properly utilized, Electronic Health Records (EHR) could increase the quality of care for Medicare’s beneficiaries and lower program costs. EHRs provide the possibility of easy transfer of information between providers, and better patient access to important information. This can mean that clinicians are apprised of changes in health status, with access to information regarding … Read more

As reported this week in The Hill, President Obama is calling on Congress to add a “public option” to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to improve his signature health law.  “Public programs like Medicare often deliver care more cost-effectively by curtailing administrative overhead and securing better prices from providers,” Obama writes in the Journal of … Read more

The New York Times reported on July 11, 2016 that a noninvasive alternative to dental fillings that could save money, while preventing future decay, has gained increased traction among dentists. The liquid – Silver Diamine Fluoride, or S.D.F. – can be brushed on certain types of cavities, removing the need for a drill or injection. … Read more

On June 30, 2016 the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published a proposed rule about the difficulties of dually eligible people (individuals eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid) to obtain Durable Medical Equipment (DME). The proposed rule seeks information about the problem, as well as potential solutions. The proposed rule is primarily focused … Read more

In 2012, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced expansion of Medicare’s Value-Based Purchasing (VBP) Program for acute care hospitals.  Beginning in Fiscal Year 2015, and as mandated by Congress in the Affordable Care Act,[1] CMS would incorporate a new measure for “Medicare Spending Per Beneficiary.”  CMS suggested this efficiency measure would reward … Read more

In the last 18 months, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, and other advocates around the country, have received many, many calls from older and disabled beneficiaries who can no longer obtain coverage for the Lidocaine Patch 5% from their Part D plans. Many have been using the Patch for at least a decade and are … Read more

As part of the Center for Medicare Advocacy’s commitment to improving oral health for older people and people with disabilities, Center attorneys recently attended a DentaQuest convening in Cambridge, Massachusetts aimed at unifying partners in this common mission. The convening focused on leadership strategies, shared network goals and collaborative work in social justice.  The Center’s … Read more

The Center for Medicare Advocacy submitted comments this week to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) concerning the proposed rule on the Medicare Program Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) and Alternative Payment Model (APM) Incentive under the Physician Fee Schedule (CMS–5571–P), two elements proposed in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of … Read more

“Dental care has been the most frustrating part of being a senior, and has the most to do with maintaining health in general.” – Michael Allen, California “This is a very important issue, the ability to eat is vital to a person[‘s] health, at age 71 I needed new dentures and I had no coverage, … Read more

Today, June 22, 2016, the Medicare and Social Security Trustees issued the 2016 Annual Report of the Boards of Trustees of the Federal Hospital Insurance Trust Fund and the Federal Supplementary Medical Insurance Trust Fund. In short, according to the report, the Part A trust fund depletion date is 2028, down 2 years from 2030 as … Read more

On June 9, 2016, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) publicly released a report (dated May 2016) titled “Medicare Fee-For-Service: Opportunities Remain to Improve Appeals Process”.[1]   Among other things, the report analyzes the increased number of appeals in the system and the resulting backlog at the third level (Administrative Law Judge, or ALJ) and fourth level … Read more

The Center for Medicare Advocacy submitted comments this week to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) concerning its proposed rule titled “Medicare Program; FY 2017 Hospice Wage Index and Payment Rate Update and Hospice Quality Reporting Requirements” (81 Fed. Reg. 25498), which was published on April 28, 2016.[1]  The Center’s comments focused on … Read more

The Center for Medicare Advocacy’s comments on the Medicare prospective payment system for skilled nursing facilities (SNFs),[1] submitted June 20, 2016, support the recommendation of the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) not to increase reimbursement to SNFs for FY 2017.  MedPAC reports that SNFs have enjoyed Medicare margins exceeding 10% for 15 consecutive years. With … Read more

Millions of people turn to State Health Insurance Assistance Programs annually to navigate the complexities of Medicare Arlington, VA (June 16, 2016) – The U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee has approved a Fiscal Year 2017 budget appropriations bill that completely eliminates the $52.1 million in funding for the Medicare State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). The Center … Read more

Last week, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would eliminate federal funding for State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs).  Since 1992, the SHIP network has provided critical information upon which people with Medicare rely to make informed decisions about their coverage options and enrollment decisions. As roughly 10,000 people a day become eligible … Read more

The Administration on Aging defines a subcategory of elder abuse – “physical abuse” – as “inflicting physical pain or injury on a senior, e.g. slapping, bruising, or restraining by physical or chemical means.”[1] Administering antipsychotic drugs to more than a quarter of a million nursing home residents meets the definition of elder abuse and, left … Read more

A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (about which the Center for Medicare Advocacy has commented) was recently highlighted by ABC News. The Report, Hearing Health Care for Adults: Priorities for Improving Access and Affordability, rightly names hearing loss as a public health priority and social health responsibility. Even mild hearing … Read more

In a recent Boston Globe piece, former CMS Administrator Donald M. Berwick, MD called for expanded access to dental care, which he characterized as a critical aspect of health care that is out of reach for many. People with low incomes, people with disabilities, and older Americans all have difficulty accessing routine, preventive, and medically … Read more

The Patient Access and Medicare Protection Act (PAMPA), enacted on December 28, 2015, delayed application of competitive bid program (CBP) adjusted payment rates for accessories furnished in connection with complex rehabilitation technology (CRT) power group 3 wheelchairs. PAMPA also included a provision requiring the General Accounting Office (GAO) to study Medicare utilization and expenditures for … Read more

A recent post by health economist Uwe Reinhardt in the Journal of the American Medical Association Forum discusses the fact that despite all the support Medicare Advantage (MA) plans have received, the vast majority of Medicare beneficiaries still prefer Traditional Medicare. 30% of Medicare recipients now receive their coverage through MA plans. This is largely because … Read more

As previously reported, a court preliminarily approved settlement in the case of Exley v. Burwell, 3:14-cv-1230 (JAM) (D. Conn.), in March of this year. Since then the government requested and the plaintiffs agreed to a revision in the proposed settlement. Because of this revision, the parties are posting notice to the class again and the … Read more

Ms. M., a Medicare beneficiary living in the Southwest, turned 65 in October 2015 and became eligible for Medicare on October 1st. On September 30th she signed up for Part B and terminated the insurance plan coverage she had been paying on her own as she was self-employed.  She signed up for a Medigap (Medicare supplemental … Read more

This week CMS released, for the first time, a public use file for the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS).  The “MCBS 2013 Access to Care Public Use File” (MCBS PUF) provides the first publicly available MCBS file for people interested in the health, health care use, access to, and satisfaction with care for Medicare beneficiaries.  … Read more

By Cynthia Ronzio, Public Health Consultant The British Medical Journal (BMJ) recently published a highly controversial and alarming study that claims that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the US.[1]  The authors used crude statistics (for example, they do not describe their method of extrapolation nor is there mention of weights, … Read more

Oral Health America recently released a report, A State of Decay, a state-by-state ranking of healthcare delivery and public health factors that affect the oral health of older adults. Some of the Report’s Findings 76% or 38 states earned a Composite Score of Fair (22%) or Poor (54%); Ten states received a Composite Score of … Read more

The controversial issue of Observation Status continues.[1]  The latest news is that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) told Quality Improvement Organizations (QIOs) on May 4 that they should temporarily pause their reviews of hospitals’ compliance with the two-midnight rule.  The pause was reported by Livanta, one of the two QIOs nationwide (the … Read more

The Medicare Advocacy Project of Greater Boston Legal Services recently received a favorable decision from the U.S. District Court in Massachusetts for “off-label” coverage of the drug Dronabinol.  This is a welcome development given how difficult it has been to obtain coverage for medications that prescribing doctors agree are necessary, but that are not FDA-approved … Read more

American Heart Association/American Stroke Association Recommends That Patients Who Have Strokes Receive Rehabilitation at Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospitals, not Skilled Nursing Facilities For the first time, the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association has issued a Scientific Statement and guidelines strongly recommending that, “whenever possible,” “stroke patients be treated at an in-patient rehabilitation hospital (now often referred to … Read more

On May 5, 2016 Center for Medicare Advocacy executive director Judith Stein and Senior Attorney Wey-Wey Kwok, the Dental Lifeline Network, the Medicare Rights Center, and former CMS (then HCFA) administrator Bruce Vladeck, met with CMS officials to discuss coverage of medically necessary oral health care. The group’s primary goal was to advance Medicare coverage … Read more

This week the General Accounting Office (GAO) issued a report entitled “Medicare Advantage: Fundamental Improvements Needed in CMS’s Effort to Recover Substantial Amounts of Improper Payments.  The report states that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) estimates that about 9.5% of its annual payments to Medicare Advantage (MA) organizations were improper – totaling … Read more

As discussed in previous Alerts, on March 11, 2016 CMS published a proposed rule aimed at reforming how Medicare pays for drugs covered under Part B. CMS states that its main objective is to ensure that physicians are prescribing the most effective prescription drugs in order to improve patient treatment and to rein in drug spending. … Read more

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has recently issued a host of Medicare-related proposed rules that are currently open for comment, including the following: MACRA (Physician Payment) On April 27, 2016, CMS released a proposed rule outlining new physician payment systems created by the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). The … Read more

1. Are you with (Pick one): Created with Highcharts 4.1.1 SHIP: 27.88%SHIP: 27.88%SHIP: 27.88%SMP: 43.27%SMP: 43.27%SMP: 43.27%Both SHIP and SMP: 28.85%Both SHIP and SMP: 28.85%Both SHIP and SMP: 28.85% SHIPPercent: 27.88%Count: 29         SHIP 27.88%   29 SMP 43.27%   45 Both SHIP and SMP 28.85%   30   Total Responses 104 … Read more

In proposed rules updating Medicare reimbursement to acute care hospitals,[1] the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announces how it intends to implement the Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act (NOTICE Act).[2]  Effective August 6, 2016, the NOTICE Act requires that hospitals provide written and oral notice, within 36 hours, … Read more