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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

As originally enacted, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) required each state to expand Medicaid eligibility to 138 % of the Federal Poverty Level.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

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

(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

Civil Money Penalties for nursing facilities have historically been too low to provide meaningful incentive for most facilities to comply with federal standards of care implemented to ensure patient safety and well-being.  The new Civil Money Penalty Analytic Tool from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) does not solve this problem. Background Every … Read more

At its January 16, 2015 public meeting, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), the government agency that advises Congress on Medicare payment policy, addressed observation status as part of its discussion of hospital short stay policy issues.[1]  MedPAC Commissioners preliminarily, but unanimously, voted to move forward on a recommendation to count time in observation status … Read more

Medicare patients considered hospital outpatients on Observation Status may be helped by a decision issued on January 22, 2015 by a federal appeals court.  A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit decided that Medicare patients who are placed on “Observation Status” in hospitals may have an interest, protected by … Read more

In early 2000, Edward, who was then 60 years old, applied for Social Security Disability.  Despite having suffered from bipolar disorder for nearly 40 years, Edward had earned a PhD, but was not able to hold a job.  While the Social Security Disability was economically important, becoming eligible for Medicare allowed him to access what … Read more

Medicare has not only provided access to care for people who could not get private insurance, it has also significantly reduced poverty.  As Nancy-Ann Min DeParle, former administrator of HCFA (Now CMS) stated in the preface to A Profile of Medicare in 1998: Few programs in the history of the United States have brought as … Read more