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Separating Beneficiary Complaint Review Functions from Quality Improvement Functions On May 9, 2014, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the first phase of its restructuring of the QIO functions.  In the first phase, CMS has contracted with Livanta LLC (for geographic areas 1 and 5), located in Annapolis Junction, Maryland, and KePRO … Read more

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is charged with the implementation and oversight of the DMEPOS program.[1]  Since the rollout of the DMEPOS competitive bidding program (CBP) in July, 2008, there has been confusion over what constitutes delivery and set-up of specific DMEPOS items.[2]  In some instances, beneficiaries have experienced delays in obtaining … Read more

To: Medicare Beneficiary Advocates From: Mario D. Ramsey, CMA Health Policy Fellow Subject: GAO and OIG Reports Note No Problems In Beneficiary Access to DMEPOS.  Beneficiary Advocates Disagree. Date: July 8, 2014 Advocates' Concerns about the DMEPOS Reports Advocates are concerned that some suppliers are not delivering and setting-up necessary items of Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS).[1] … Read more

The Supreme Court decision in Burwell, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al. v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., et al. (5-4 decision), 573 U.S. ___ (2014) is ominous. Not only is the decision, and its interpretation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFFA) a blow to a woman's access to preventive and contraceptive care, its … Read more

June 26, 2014 Medicare's Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Bidding Program was enacted by Congress as a cost and fraud protection measure.  From its inception, there have been questions about the program's complexity and fairness, and whether it would hinder beneficiary access to necessary DMEPOS items and services.  Background information about … Read more

Connecticut Passes Observation Notice Law On June 12, 2014, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy signed into law a requirement that, starting October 1, 2014, Connecticut hospitals give oral and written notice to patients placed on observation status for 24 hours or more.  Similar laws already exist in New York and Maryland.  Specifically, Connecticut's law requires: … Read more

Research suggests that medications that should be covered by the Medicare Hospice Benefit are sometimes paid for by Medicare Part D plans. In March, to prevent this from happening, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a memorandum to Part D Plan Sponsors and Medicare Hospice Providers entitled, "Part D Payment for Drugs for … Read more

June 12, 2014 Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement (QAPI) In Nursing Homes: Diverting CMS Attention from Enforcement In the past few years, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has focused considerable attention on Quality Assessment and Performance Improvement (QAPI) in nursing homes.  This focus, we fear, is diverting the agency's resources from enforcing … Read more

Technology can help the most vulnerable among us live with more capabilities than we would have considered possible, even a few short years ago.  Rather than encourage technological advances that promote independence and safety, however, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is reducing access to technology in an ill-conceived effort to control short-term … Read more

In May 2014, the Administration for Community Living (ACL), an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services,  issued guidance applicable to all ACL grantees concerning the federal government's policy on same-sex marriages following the Supreme Court Decision in  United States v. Windsor, 133 S. Ct. 2675 (2013).[1] The Court in Windsor found that … Read more