Beginning no later than March 8, 2017, hospitals are required to give written and oral notice to Medicare patients when they are placed in “outpatient” observation status for 24 hours and are not formally admitted as inpatients.[1] The written notice is called the Medicare Outpatient Observation Notice (MOON).[2] Although hospitals can provide all the care … Read more

Beginning no later than March 8, 2017, and as required by the Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act (NOTICE Act),[1] hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) are required to give patients both oral and written notice when they are outpatients and not admitted as inpatients.[2]  Hospitals must use the written notice … 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

(The views expressed in this Issue Brief and during the Alliance call are solely those of the Center for Medicare Advocacy.) I. ENROLLMENT PERIOD UPDATES Overview The Annual Coordinated Election Period (ACEP) – the period during which individuals with Medicare can make coverage elections for the following year – ends on December 7th.  As discussed … Read more

Disclaimer: the views expressed in this Issue Brief and during the Alliance call are solely those of the Center for Medicare Advocacy. 1. UPCOMING ANNUAL COORDINATED ELECTION PERIOD (ACEP) Overview The Annual Coordinated Election Period (ACEP) – the period during which individuals with Medicare can make coverage elections for the following year – will start … Read more

1. UPDATES on the BENES Act and PART D LEGISLATION Guest Speaker:  Lindsey Copeland from the Medicare Rights Center Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act (S. 1280/H.R. 2477) Medicare Rights Center one-pager – https://www.medicarerights.org/pdf/2019-benes-act-factsheet-long.pdf Medicare Watch article, The BENES Act Advances in the House – https://blog.medicarerights.org/benes-act-advances-in-the-house/ Medicare Watch article, MedPAC Calls for Improvements in Medicare … Read more

1. MEDICARE & ORAL HEALTH UPDATES Medically Necessary Coverage The Center for Medicare Advocacy has long advocated for coverage of medically necessary oral health care, which is currently supported by the Medicare statue, but is, unfortunately, significantly limited in practice due to CMS policy. Denying Medicare coverage to people for medically essential care, simply because … Read more

1. MEDICARE EDUCATION & OUTREACH At a February 8, 2019 meeting of the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS) National Medicare Education Program (NMEP), the agency released information about the 2018 Annual Coordinated Election Period (ACEP), sometimes referred to as “Open Enrollment” or “OP.” (Note: this is a downloadable “zip” file containing several items. … Read more

Improve and Expand Medicare: End the Use of Outpatient Observation Status – A Billing Issue that Restricts Needed Care Jimmo Implementation Update: Where is CMS? 2019 National Aging and Law Conference Speaker Proposals Still Accepted through Tomorrow Improve and Expand Medicare: End the Use of Outpatient Observation Status – A Billing Issue that Restricts Needed … Read more

Recently, the Center for Medicare Advocacy laid out our Medicare Platform for the New Congress. One of the core considerations to improve Medicare for all beneficiaries, now and in the future, is the need to end ongoing barriers to care. One of the most common barriers about which the Center receives inquiries is the continued overuse … Read more

#MedicarePlatform – Improve and Expand Medicare: Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Center Submits Comments on Proposed Medicare Prescription Drug Rule Congressional Hearings Explore Rising Prescription Drug Costs Medicare’s New “What’s Covered” App Adds to Outreach but More Work Is Needed #MedicarePlatform – Improve and Expand Medicare: Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Recently, the Center for … Read more

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has released a free mobile app for iOS and Android users. The app, “What’s Covered,” is designed to provide Medicare beneficiaries and their families with a general overview of covered services, coverage requirements, costs, and additional information. While the app is geared towards beneficiaries in traditional Medicare, … Read more

Disclaimer: the views expressed in this Issue Brief and during the Alliance call are solely those of the Center for Medicare Advocacy. ACCESS TO CARE    Home Health Between April 2017 and October 2018, the Center completed the “CMA Issue Brief Series: Medicare Home Health Crisis” – a ten-part series examining the growing crisis in … Read more

Improve Medicare: Correct Medicare Hospital Observation Status Legal Memorandum: Statutory Authority Exists for Medicare to Cover Medically Necessary Oral Health Care Joint Statement on Turmoil in the Nursing Home Industry Improve Medicare: Correct Medicare Hospital Observation Status Recently, the Center for Medicare Advocacy laid out our Medicare Platform for the New Congress. One of the core … Read more

Recently, the Center for Medicare Advocacy laid out our Medicare Platform for the New Congress. One of the core considerations to improve Medicare for all beneficiaries, now and in the future, is the need to reduce ongoing barriers to coverage and care. One of the key issues impeding access to Medicare coverage is the continued, and … Read more

Public Support for Medicare is at an All-Time High, But Experts See Continuing Threats to the Program Sept. 25, 2018​, WASHINGTON – The Center for Medicare Advocacy held a media briefing today to shed light on ongoing and upcoming threats to the Medicare program. The beloved program, which provides health care to nearly 20 percent of … Read more

Disclaimer: the views expressed in this Issue Brief and during the Alliance call are solely those of the Center for Medicare Advocacy. RECENT CHANGES IN LAW, REGULATIONS AND GUIDANCE RELATING TO MEDICARE ADVANTAGE AND PART D CMA Special Report (September 2018): http://www.medicareadvocacy.org/special-report-recent-changes-in-law-regulations-and-guidance-relating-to-medicare-advantage-and-the-prescription-drug-benefit-program/ Overview The first half of 2018 has seen a number of changes in … Read more

MEDICARE HOT TOPICS[1] ORAL HEALTH UPDATE On July 19, 2018 the Center issued the following press release: July 19, 2018 – Washington, DC – The Center for Medicare Advocacy, along with a diverse group of partners, released a white paper, An Oral Health Benefit in Medicare Part B: It’s Time to Include Oral Health in Health Care. … Read more

RECENT POLICY CHANGES RELATING TO MEDICARE ADVANTAGE The first few months of 2018 have seen a number of changes in law, regulations and sub-regulatory guidance that impact the Medicare program, particularly Part C, known as Medicare Advantage (MA), and Part D, the prescription drug benefit.  The section below highlights some, but not all, of these … Read more

FEDERAL UPDATE Federal Budget & Omnibus Bill On February 9, 2018, the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 was signed into law.  While the Budget Act included a number of permanent provisions, including those discussed below, it only extended spending on the federal budget through another short-term continuing resolution (CR), which expires March 23rd.  The remainder … Read more

Patients in “outpatient” observation status often receive care in acute care hospitals that is indistinguishable from the care patients receive when they are formally admitted to hospitals as inpatients.[1]  Nevertheless, the financial consequences of outpatient status are considerable, particularly for patients who need post-acute care in a skilled nursing facility (SNF).  Medicare Part A does … Read more

MEDICARE APPEALS Expedited v. Standard Appeals – Not Knowing the Difference Can Cost You Your Appeal Rights Here’s the Issue Expedited Medicare appeals and standard Medicare appeals are designed to address different things and there are situations where a Medicare beneficiary must pursue both types of appeals. Expedited Appeals – Address whether the provider’s termination … Read more

ENROLLMENT IN MEDICARE CMS Steering to Medicare Advantage? The Medicare Annual Coordinated Election Period (ACEP), from October 15th through December 7th, allows Medicare beneficiaries to make certain changes to their Medicare coverage, effective the following January 1st.  Official Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Medicare Open Enrollment materials for 2018 tip the scales to … 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

Medicare Hospital Outpatient & Observation Status Toolkit

Supported by             The John A. Hartford Foundation   Patients may find themselves in the hospital, receiving medical services, tests, and treatment, sometimes for many days, but learn they are considered outpatients, in Observation Status, not admitted inpatients. This is understandably confusing for patients and families – and difficult for … Read more

I. JIMMO IMPLEMENTATION UPDATE Background – Jimmo Settlement The settlement in Jimmo v. Sebelius, No. 5:11-cv-17 (D. Vt.) was approved on January 24, 2013.  CMS issued revisions to its Medicare Benefit Policy Manual to clarify that Medicare coverage is available for skilled maintenance services in the home health, nursing home and outpatient settings.  CMS also implemented … Read more

I. HEALTH REFORM: UPDATE Overview On May 4, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by a vote of 217-213.  The bill then moved on the Senate, and was reintroduced, with some minor changes, as the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA). Both AHCA and BCRA would cause substantial … Read more

Welcome and Housekeeping  (David Lipschutz, Moderator)  Health Reform: House Passes American Health Care Act (AHCA) (David Lipschutz)  What’s in AHCA Impact on Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and Medicare Next up: the Senate Update on Home Health Access Initiative Project (Kathy Holt)  Speech Generating Devices (SGDs) (Kathy Holt) Steve Gleason Act            Observation Status (Toby Edelman) Medicare … Read more

HEALTH REFORM: HOUSE PASSES AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT (AHCA) On May 4, 2017, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) by a vote of 217-213.  The bill will now be taken up by the Senate. American Health Care Act (AHCA): Impact on the Affordable Care Act, Medicare and Medicaid The … Read more

On March 30, 2017, the Center for Medicare Advocacy held its fourth annual National Voices of Medicare Summit and Senator Jay Rockefeller Lecture at the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, DC. The Summit convened leading experts and advocates to discuss best practices, challenges, and successes in efforts to improve and expand fair access to health … Read more

On March 30, 2017, the Center for Medicare Advocacy held its fourth annual National Voices of Medicare Summit and Senator Jay Rockefeller Lecture at the Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, DC. The Summit convened leading experts and advocates to discuss best practices, challenges, and successes in efforts to improve and expand fair access to health … Read more

Welcome and Housekeeping  (David Lipschutz, Moderator)  Litigation Update   (Ali Bers) Jimmo (Improvement standard) Barrows (formerly Bagnall) (Observation) Sherman (Lower level Medicare appeals) Other updates The Fight to Protect the ACA, Medicare and Medicaid – Updates (David Lipschutz)  House proposal: American Health Care Act (AHCA Impact on Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and Medicare Other health reform … Read more

LITIGATION UPDATE Barrows v. Price (formerly Bagnall v. Sebelius, Barrows v. Burwell), No. 3:11-cv-1703 (D. Conn.) (Observation Status). In November 2011, the Center for Medicare Advocacy and Justice in Aging filed a proposed class action lawsuit on behalf of individuals who have been denied Medicare Part A coverage of hospital and nursing home stays because … Read more

On January 24, 2017 the Task Force on America’s Health and Retirement Security, chaired by Marilyn Moon, Ph.D. and led by Principal Investigator Peter Arno, Ph.D., released a new study showing the dramatic negative impact of raising Medicare’s eligibility age to 67 – assessing results on uninsured rates if the ACA stays in place and, what we … Read more

Welcome and Housekeeping  (David Lipschutz, Moderator)  The Fight to Protect the ACA, Medicare and Medicaid – Updates (David Lipschutz and Kata Kertesz)  Affordable Care Act (ACA) Congressional action Advocacy/coalition action Outlook for Medicare and Medicaid Observation Status (David Lipschutz) Recent HHS OIG Report confirms that long outpatient stays in hospitals increasing Update on NOTICE Act … Read more

THE FIGHT TO PROTECT THE ACA, MEDICARE AND MEDICAID The President-Elect and Republican leaders in Congress have promised to repeal, and at some point, “replace” the Affordable Care Act.  They also plan to gut the Medicaid program by imposing block granting or per-capita caps.  Speaker Ryan, Trump’s nominee for HHS Secretary Rep. Price, and many … Read more

HHS Inspector General: Observation Status is a Growing Problem for Patients In a new report, Vulnerabilities Remain Under Medicare’s 2-Midnight Hospital Policy,[1] the HHS Inspector General documents and confirms what Medicare beneficiaries and their advocates have seen: long outpatient stays in hospitals are increasing. How hospitals bill the Medicare program – Part A for inpatient … Read more

Effective August 6, 2016, the Notice of Observation Treatment and Implication for Care Eligibility Act (NOTICE Act)[1] requires acute care hospitals to provide oral and written notification to patients who are classified as outpatients or observation status patients for more than 24 hours.  Notice of non-inpatient status must be provided within 36 hours.  On August … 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

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

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

PROPOSED RULE TO REVISE MEDICARE ADMINISTRATIVE APPEALS PROCESS As discussed during previous Alliance calls, there is a significant backlog of cases at the third and fourth levels of the Medicare administrative appeals process, the administrative law judge (ALJ) stage administered by the Office of Medicare Hearings and Appeals (OMHA), and the Medicare Appeals Council (Council) … Read more

NATIONAL MEDICARE ADVOCATES ALLIANCE CALL Monday, July 11th, 2016 – 2:00 P.M., Eastern Time Call-in Number: 1 (888) 206-2266 Pass Code: 9874704 NOTE: We ask people calling from the same location to gather around one telephone. This frees up lines and holds down costs. Please ensure your line is on MUTE for the duration of the call … Read more

June 16, 2016 Andrew M. Slavitt Acting Administrator Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Department of Health and Human Services Room 445-G, Hubert H. Humphrey Building 200 Independence Ave., S.W. Washington, D.C.  20201 Re: CMS-1655-P, Medicare Program; Hospital Inpatient Prospective Payment Systems for Acute Care Hospitals and the Long-Term Care Hospital Prospective Payment System and … Read more

MEDICARE’S COVERAGE OF ORAL HEALTH   Current Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) policy[1] broadly bars Medicare coverage for practically all dental services.  The Center for Medicare Advocacy firmly believes that CMS has the legal authority under the Medicare statute to cover medically necessary oral health care – that is, treatment deemed necessary by … 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

On April 1, 2016, the Center for Medicare Advocacy held its third annual National Voices of Medicare Summit and Senator Jay Rockefeller Lecture. The event brought together leading experts and advocates to discuss best practices, challenges, and successes in efforts to improve and expand fair access to health care for older people and people with … Read more

On April 1, 2016, the Center for Medicare Advocacy held its third annual National Voices of Medicare Summit and Senator Jay Rockefeller Lecture. The event brought together leading experts and advocates to discuss best practices, challenges, and successes in efforts to improve and expand fair access to health care for older people and people with disabilities. The … Read more

By Marilyn Moon, Institute Fellow, American Institutes for Research (Center for Medicare Advocacy Luminary) Medicare is a successful program that is extremely popular with its beneficiaries who rank it higher than others do their private insurance plans.  And polls always show that people are willing to pay more for Medicare.  So why do politicians persist in … Read more

In the spirit of aiding the discussion concerning the budget and the SGR “Doc Fix,” we raise many of the myths surrounding Medicare and answer them with facts. Congress is working to repeal and replace the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) — also known as the “Doc Fix.”  The House version of the SGR bill asked too … Read more