Medicare Advantage 101: New policy series explains Medicare Advantage and its role within the Medicare system.

Mitchell Clark

Director of Digital Strategy & Communications

Medicare Commits to a New Ombudsman Program

In December, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) finalized a demonstration program that will test new ways for Medicare to pay hospitals that perform heart or hip surgeries. Under the new model, Medicare will pay participating hospitals one payment, known as a “bundled payment,” for a person’s hospital stay and the 90 days following a heart attack, cardiac bypass surgery, or surgical hip treatment. The hospital stay and 90-day post-stay period together are known as an “episode of care.” As part of this demonstration, CMS announced the creation of an ombudsman to serve people with Medicare in this model and other similar programs—a move applauded by Medicare Rights.

Medicare Rights Highlights Harmful Consequences of Increasing the Medicare Eligibility Age

As policymakers continue to debate the future of our country’s health care system, some lawmakers support increasing the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 in order to save money for the federal government. This costly benefit cut is sometimes defended by arguing that as Americans live longer and delay retirement, most people will not need Medicare at age 65. But most Americans retire well before age 67—half of all men are retired by age 64 and half of all women by age 62. Our latest issue brief, “Paying More for Less: Raising the Eligibility Age,” highlights the harmful consequences of increasing the eligibility age for Medicare above 65.

Paying More for Less: Affordable Care Act Repeal

Together with Medicare and Medicaid, the ACA builds health security for people of all ages. To repeal the ACA and delay a meaningful replacement would force families across the country to pay more for less. Our latest issue brief, “Paying More for Less: Affordable Care Act Repeal,” highlights the harmful consequences of repealing the ACA without an immediate replacement for people with Medicare and for many who are just shy of Medicare eligibility.

Call Your Representative Today and Tell Them to Protect Our Health Care

In January, when a new administration moves into the White House and a new Congress is gaveled into session, some lawmakers expect to radically change our health care system. The President-elect and some members of Congress have signaled their intentions to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) (with no meaningful replacement), make drastic cuts to Medicaid, and alter the Medicare guarantee.

Read the Real Story. Medicare Is Not Going Broke.

A recent blog post on the Center on Budget Policy Priorities (CBPP) addresses a common falsehood repeated by some lawmakers about the financial footing of Medicare. Unfortunately, some members of Congress continue to claim that Medicare won’t be there for future generations because it’s going bankrupt. According to CBPP, this falsehood has been debunked before—Medicare is not running out of money.

It’s Throwback Thursday! Old and Tired Medicare Ideas Resurrected

Several years ago, Republican leaders in Congress unveiled proposals to make sweeping changes to the health care system, including to Medicare. Those plans—ultimately designed to create Medicare cost savings for the federal government— include raising the age of Medicare eligibility, privatizing the Medicare program through a premium support model, increasing cost sharing for people with Medicare, and more.

After the recent election, these ideas reemerged, through comments by members of Congress and the incoming Administration. When these proposals were originally introduced, we said that they were not the right solutions, and we still believe they represent the wrong path for sustaining the future of the Medicare program.

Proposed Improvements to Medicare Coverage and Enrollment Offer Important Protections

This week, the Medicare Rights Center submitted a letter of strong support for the Medicare Affordability and Enrollment Act of 2016. Introduced this fall, this bill would cap beneficiaries’ out-of-pocket expenses in Traditional Medicare; eliminate coverage gaps associated with Part B enrollment mistakes; reduce cost-sharing for low-income beneficiaries; increase eligibility for income-dependent programs; and modernize the Medicare enrollment system to facilitate easier enrollment, begin coverage earlier and reduce arbitrary late-enrollment penalties that today are paid for a lifetime.

American Institutes for Research Highlights Need to Fix Complex Medicare Enrollment System

A new set of issue briefs by the Center on Aging at the American Institutes for Research (AIR) highlights the growing complexities facing thousands of people each day as they become eligible for Medicare. One of the briefs, Medicare Enrollment Maze Puts Older Americans at Risk for Financial Penalties and Coverage Gaps, examines a relatively recent trend where the age of Medicare eligibility and the age of retirement have moved further apart.

CMS Temporarily Suspends Policy that Allows Automatic Enrollment in Medicare Advantage Plans

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently suspended a policy known as seamless conversion, a practice that allows select insurers to auto-enroll newly eligible Medicare beneficiaries in an issuer’s commercial or Medicaid managed care product into one of the same company’s Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. In light of recent inquiries, including from the Medicare Rights Center, CMS decided to temporarily halt the acceptance of all new seamless conversion proposals from plans.

Kaiser Family Foundation Releases First Look at 2017 Part D Plan Offerings

The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) recently released an issue brief analyzing the 2017 prescription drug (Part D) plan offerings based on recently released data from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). The key findings in KFF’s analysis come at an important time as millions of people with Medicare are weighing their plan choices during Fall Open Enrollment, which lasts from October 15 to December 7.