Medicare Watch

Your Weekly Medicare Consumer Advocacy Update

The President’s 2017 Budget and Medicare

February 11, 2016

Medicare Rights Responds to President’s 2017 Budget Proposal

This week, the President released his administration’s 2017 budget proposal, advancing many worthwhile proposals for people with Medicare and their families. Among these are recommendations to rein in the rising cost of prescription drugs, to align enrollment and appeals processes for low-income beneficiaries, and to advance value-driven delivery and payment system reforms.

According to a statement by Joe Baker, President of the Medicare Rights Center, “[Medicare Rights] shares the President’s deep concern about the rapidly rising cost of prescription drugs. We are encouraged by the President’s commitment to transparency and value, expressed through proposals that would allow Medicare to evaluate the effectiveness of high-cost medications and require pharmaceutical companies to disclose information on how prescription drugs are priced. We also continue to strongly support proposals to allow the federal government to negotiate prices for breakthrough medicines, restore Medicare’s ability to benefit from the same manufacturer discounts that Medicaid receives, and accelerate closure of the Part D prescription drug coverage gap (or doughnut hole). These policies represent sensible savings solutions that do no harm to people with Medicare.”

Medicare Rights applauds the President for the budget’s focus on key policy improvements critical to the most vulnerable. The President’s request includes proposals to simplify the appeals process for beneficiaries dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid and to align enrollment processes for federal assistance programs that help people with Medicare afford Part B and Part D premiums and cost sharing. These proposals would alleviate known barriers to accessing needed health care services for low-income beneficiaries.

See what is in the President’s 2017 budget.

HHS Announces Considerable Prescription Drug Savings for People with Medicare

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently released new information showing that millions of people with Medicare continue to save money as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The data show that nearly 10.7 million Medicare beneficiaries have received discounts on prescription drugs – an average of $1,945 per beneficiary – since the enactment of the law. In 2015 alone, nearly 5.2 million seniors and people with disabilities received discounts of over $5.4 billion.

Medicare beneficiaries also continue to take advantage preventive services with no coinsurance:

  • An estimated 39.2 million people with Medicare (including those enrolled in Medicare Advantage) took advantage of at least one preventive service with no copays or deductible in 2015.
  • Nearly 9 million Medicare beneficiaries (including those enrolled in Medicare Advantage) received an Annual Wellness Visit in 2015. In Original Medicare, a million more people utilized an Annual Wellness Visit in 2015 than 2014.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Acting Administrator Andy Slavitt applauded the changes brought about by the ACA, saying “[m]illions are now able to access more affordable prescription medicine for their chronic conditions and millions more are staying healthier by accessing preventive services, especially vital for people living with disabilities or growing older.”

See here for state-by-state information on discounts in the donut hole.

See here for a state-by-state information on utilization of an annual wellness visit and preventive services at no cost to Medicare beneficiaries.

Volume 7, Issue 6

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Medicare Reminder

If you were denied coverage for a prescription drug, you should ask your plan to reconsider its decision by filing an appeal. Your appeal process will be the same whether you have a stand-alone Part D prescription drug plan or a Medicare Advantage plan that includes your Part D prescription drug coverage. If you need your drug right away, you should file an expedited appeal. Medicare Interactive has steps you can take to appeal if you are denied coverage.

 

Click here to read more about Part D appeals on Medicare Interactive.

 

Spotlight

On February 17th, the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations will hold a live forum, Seniors Decide 2016, featuring candidates for President of the United States. This platform provides voters the opportunity to ask questions of the candidates and for the candidates to speak about policies that affect older adults.

Three volunteers from the Medicare Rights Center recently submitted questions for the candidates concerning various improvements to the Medicare program. Visit www.seniorsdecide.org/candidates to watch the clips. There is still time to submit questions!

Visit the Seniors Decide website today to ask your question.

 

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