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Lindsey Copeland

Federal Policy Director

The BENES Act Advances in the House

This week, the House Committee on Ways and Means advanced the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act (S. 1280/H.R. 2477) in a markup that considered a series of Medicare-related bills. The BENES Act is now included in a larger bipartisan package that was unanimously reported favorably out of Committee—the Beneficiary Education Tools, Telehealth, and Extenders Reauthorization (BETTER) Act of 2019 (H.R. 3417).

New Issue Brief Clarifies When Medicare Should Cover Skilled Care

This week, the Center for Medicare Advocacy released a new resource on the Medicare Improvement Standard. The issue brief, “Implementing Jimmo v. Sebelius: An Overview Settlement implementation,” is intended to provide Medicare stakeholders with an overview of the Jimmo Settlement, what it means in different care settings, and links and references to helpful resource materials.

MedPAC Calls for Improvements in Medicare Part B Enrollment Process

In its June 2019 report to Congress, the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC) recommends improvements to the complex Medicare Part B enrollment process, including strengthening notification requirements which is, in part, what the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act proposes to do (S. 1280/H.R. 2477).

Inefficient Medicare Part D Appeals Process Can Result in Dangerous Medication Delays

The Medicare Rights Center applauds Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD) and John Cornyn (R-TX) for introducing the bipartisan Streamlining Part D Appeals Process Act (S. 1861).

The bill would eliminate unnecessary steps in the Medicare Part D appeals process, making the system less burdensome for people with Medicare, providers, and plans. Specifically, the Cardin-Cornyn bill would simplify the process for Part D enrollees who experience medication denials at the pharmacy counter.

Payment Glitch Interrupts Automatic Medicare Advantage and Part D Premium Withdrawals

Earlier this year, a federal government systems issue prevented Medicare Advantage and Part D premiums from being automatically deducted from the Social Security payments of some people with Medicare. Normally, if a beneficiary elects, Social Security deducts the premiums and sends them directly to the plan. In this instance, the payments were not sent to the plans, and beneficiaries did not know that their plans were not receiving them.

Medicare Rights Testifies About Expiring Medicare Programs

On June 4, Medicare Rights Center President Fred Riccardi testified at a hearing of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, Subcommittee on Health titled “Investing in America’s Health Care.”

The hearing examined an array of public health initiatives set to expire in September. Riccardi spoke to several of the Medicare-related programs, urging Congress to address these expirations in a health care “extenders” legislative package later this year.

Medicare is Strong and Built to Last

The Medicare Trustee’s report underscores what we already know: Medicare is strong and built to last. We urge lawmakers to pursue commonsense reforms—like reversing the tax bill’s troubling trajectory, reigning in high prescription drug prices, and eliminating Medicare Advantage overpayments—to ensure it stays that way.

Recent Trends in Drug Pricing Show Stark Differences in Brand-Name and Generic Drug Affordability

A new report from the AARP Public Policy Institute (PPI) examines trends in prices for 390 generic prescription drugs widely used by older adults. The report found that retail prices for these drugs fell by an average of 9.3% between 2016 and 2017; the general inflation rate rose by 2.1% during the same period. This follows two consecutive years of substantial generic drug price decreases; the previous two years saw prices increase.

President Trump’s Budget Proposal Represents a Vision for the Country That Does Not Prioritize People with Medicare

The President’s budget is a powerful document, as it represents the Trump administration’s vision for the country—a roadmap for where it would like lawmakers to go. It reflects the administration’s fiscal and programmatic priorities, which again this year do not include people with Medicare.

Further, because many older adults and people with disabilities look to a constellation of programs to stay healthy as they age, the budget’s Medicare cuts alone don’t tell the full story of how the administration’s vision for the future would impact beneficiaries.