- A Message from the Executive Director
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- Legislative & Policy Update
- CMA In the Community
A Message from the Executive Director
2015 Marks the 50th Anniversary of Medicare – Help Ensure its Future
Since 1965, Medicare has opened doors to health care and increased economic security for hundreds of millions of older people, people with disabilities, and their families.
2015 will also usher in a new Congress. Many of its leaders and members will likely champion plans to further privatize Medicare. These proposals will likely surface despite increasing reports that Medicare costs and the federal deficit are declining, and that traditional Medicare costs less than private Medicare. Once again we will likely hear about plans to transform Medicare to “Premium Support” (a voucher towards the purchase of private insurance). We will probably read about proposals to increase the age of Medicare eligibility, decrease the value of Supplemental Medicare Insurance (Medigap), redesign Medicare to make it “simpler” (but less useful for most beneficiaries). We urge you to listen carefully for these and other such plans. And respond!
Since 1986, the Center for Medicare Advocacy has been on the front lines, advocating for people who depend on Medicare and for a comprehensive Medicare program for future generations. That’s why you joined the CMA Community. As we mark Medicare’s 50th anniversary, help us ensure its promise to advance access to healthcare. Help us explain what’s true and what’s not, where real savings exist, and when the true interests of beneficiaries are at stake. Help us ensure a real Medicare program lasts for another 50 years.
- "Site Neutral" Payment for Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities and Skilled Nursing Facilities is a Bad Idea
Site Neutral Payment is the concept of paying the same amount for rehabilitation regardless of whether the patient is treated in an inpatient rehabilitation facility (IRF) or nursing home (skilled nursing facility, or SNF). The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC), the nonpartisan government agency that advises Congress on Medicare policy, has recommended adopting Site Neutral Payment for over 20 diagnoses. The Center opposes this idea. Research consistently shows that care in these two settings is absolutely not the same. IRFs offer better care outcomes, fewer hospital readmissions, and lower risk of other injury or death. Further, decisions regarding the appropriate level of care should not be based on any "rule of thumb." Each person's needs should be individually assessed. Read more.
- Medicare Advantage Provider Network Terminations – New Special Enrollment Period for 2015
Starting in 2015 CMS has instituted a limited Special Enrollment Period (SEP) possibility for certain MA enrollees following certain provider network terminations. This SEP will be available on a case-by-case basis when CMS "determines that changes to an MA plan's provider network that occur outside the course of routine contract initiation and renewal cycles are considered significant based on the affect or potential to affect [sic], current plan enrollees." See the Medicare Managed Care Manual for more details. And click the link at right to see USA Today's related article quoting the Center's own David Lipschutz.
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- Medicare Agency Rescinds Restrictive Policy and Will Reconsider Technological Advances
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced in November that it has begun the process of updating its Medicare coverage policy for Speech Generating Devices (SGDs). A new SGD National Coverage Determination (NCD) is expected to be completed by July 31, 2015. While CMS considers a new coverage rule for SGDs, it announced that beneficiaries will "continue to have access to this critical technology." This is a reversal of a proposed "Coverage Reminder" and coding review that was to have taken effect this month and would have limited Medicare coverage only to devices that were dedicated to speech, but were not capable of any other form of communication, such as text or email. The Center for Medicare Advocacy and other groups met with CMS to urge reconsideration of this harmful policy. Read more.
2015 marks the 50th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid. Each of these programs has become an invaluable safety net for our older and vulnerable citizens, and should be protected and enhanced. Be sure to follow us in 2015 as we bring you Medicare Matters: 50 Insights for Medicare’s 50th Anniversary in the weeks leading up to Medicare's anniversary on July 30, 2015.
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CMA In the Community
- Center for Medicare Advocacy Executive Director Judith Stein was recently invited to a private reception at the White House, and had an opportunity to talk Medicare with President Barack Obama. The President, pictured here with Ms. Stein, agreed that "Medicare is always a priority."
- Center to Host 2nd Annual National Voices of Medicare Summit and Jay Rockefeller Lecture. Our own experts will be joined in lectures and panel discussions by luminaries including Representative Rosa DeLauro (D.CT); Patricia Neuman, Senior Vice President, Kaiser Family Foundation; Bruce Vladeck, former Health Care Finance Administration (now CMS) Administrator; and Julie Rovner of NPR and Kaiser Health News. Early-Bird Registration is open now.
- The Center signed on in support of legislation to protect the rights of those who rely on Durable Medical Equipment. The Medicare DMEPOS Competitive Bidding Improvement Act of 2014/HR 4920 will add badly needed provisions to improve the poorly designed bidding program by requiring that participating durable medical equipment suppliers comply with state licensure requirements and binding bids to ensure that access to quality equipment and services is protected.
- Finally, congratulations to frequent Center collaborator Eric Carlson. The esteemed NSCLC Attorney has been awarded the Toby S. Edelman Legal Justice Award by Consumer Voice. The award, named for the Center for Medicare Advocacy's remarkable Senior Attorney, Toby Edelman, recognizes individuals who go to extraordinary lengths to achieve justice for long-term care customers.
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