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Medicare Watch

Trustees Reports Reflect Largely Unchanged and Improved Projections

The Social Security and Medicare Trustees reports were released this week. The reports include short- and long-term projections for the financial situation of the Social Security Retirement and Disability and the Medicare HI (Part A) and SMI (Part B) trust funds. The findings are largely consistent with those from 2019 and confirm the Medicare and Social Security programs are strong and built to last.

Read More »

How Coronavirus Might Change Future Health Costs

The coronavirus public health emergency is likely to have a sweeping impact on the entire American health care system, including costs and affordability. This week, the Peterson Center on Healthcare and KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation) released a brief discussing possible changes to health care costs, including within the Medicare and Medicaid programs, moving forward.

Read More »

CMS Temporarily Eases Some Requirements for Medicare Advantage and Part D Appeals

People with Medicare who are denied coverage for a health service or item by Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage (MA), or their Part D plan may appeal—or formally request a review of—that decision.

During the coronavirus public health emergency, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is allowing new flexibilities in how these appeals are managed. The temporary changes give the entities hearing or processing a beneficiary’s appeal the authority to remove barriers that might otherwise prevent a beneficiary from successfully filing or pursuing an appeal.

Read More »

Enrolling in Medicare During the Coronavirus Emergency

During the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus, Social Security Administration (SSA) offices across the country closed their physical doors and moved all operations to online and telephone platforms. SSA created a new resource page to keep the public updated and explain how to access services amid the office closures. Anything affecting access to SSA has an impact on people applying for Medicare coverage, as SSA is the agency that handles enrollment. Importantly, Medicare enrollment continues, though people may encounter some delays.

Read More »

CMS Releases Interim Final Rule for Medicare Policy During the Coronavirus Emergency Period

On April 6, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)—the agency that oversees the Medicare program—published an interim final rule (IFR) with comment period, Policy and Regulatory Revisions in Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The IFR reinterprets and clarifies several Medicare rules and policies for the duration of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) emergency period, often to increase access to telehealth services. The rule is retroactive to March 1, and comments on the rule are due June 1.

Read More »

The CARES Act Provides Economic Stimulus and Health Care Changes

Last week, a third bill intended to address the coronavirus pandemic through economic stimulus and important financial and health safety provisions was passed by Congress and signed into law by the president. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a massive legislative package that is likely to have some effect on all residents of the U.S., including people with Medicare and their families.

Read More »

Cash Assistance Coming for Many Americans, but Hurdles Remain

Signed into law last week, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is the third coronavirus-related legislative package to pass Congress. Among the $2 trillion bill’s health care and economic changes is a plan to send up to $1,200 in cash assistance to millions of Americans.

Read More »

CMS Releases Coronavirus Guidance for Medicare Advantage and Part D Plans

On March 10, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance around the requirements and flexibilities Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, Part D plans, and certain Medicare-Medicaid plans have to help provide health care coverage to people with Medicare for coronavirus testing, treatments, and prevention. The guidance identifies what plan sponsors must do during a disaster or emergency as declared by their states, and also what the plans are permitted to do. Since the issuance of the guidance, some of the optional flexibilities have become mandatory due to passage of federal legislation.

Read More »

Medicare Rights Outlines Recommendations for Future Action Around Coronavirus

Older adults and people with disabilities are at high risk of infection and serious illness from coronavirus. While we appreciate the efforts of policymakers to date to respond to the outbreak, more must be done to anticipate and meet the unique needs of people with Medicare. This week, Medicare Rights sent letters to Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), outlining our priorities and recommendations for future action.

Read More »

Congress Passes Additional Measures to Address Medicare Coverage and Costs Related to Coronavirus

This week, Congress passed legislation (H.R. 6201) that waives all Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing for coronavirus testing and the associated doctor’s office visit.

The legislation contains a number of other provisions that also advance critical health care and fiscal priorities, including enhanced federal Medicaid funding for states, support for nutrition services, unemployment aid, and paid sick leave. The package is the second coronavirus bill to pass Congress. Earlier this month, Congress provided $8.3 billion in emergency appropriations to improve public health preparedness and response.

Read More »

Trustees Reports Reflect Largely Unchanged and Improved Projections

The Social Security and Medicare Trustees reports were released this week. The reports include short- and long-term projections for the financial situation of the Social Security Retirement and Disability and the Medicare HI (Part A) and SMI (Part B) trust funds. The findings are largely consistent with those from 2019 and confirm the Medicare and Social Security programs are strong and built to last.

How Coronavirus Might Change Future Health Costs

The coronavirus public health emergency is likely to have a sweeping impact on the entire American health care system, including costs and affordability. This week, the Peterson Center on Healthcare and KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation) released a brief discussing possible changes to health care costs, including within the Medicare and Medicaid programs, moving forward.

CMS Temporarily Eases Some Requirements for Medicare Advantage and Part D Appeals

People with Medicare who are denied coverage for a health service or item by Original Medicare, Medicare Advantage (MA), or their Part D plan may appeal—or formally request a review of—that decision.

During the coronavirus public health emergency, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is allowing new flexibilities in how these appeals are managed. The temporary changes give the entities hearing or processing a beneficiary’s appeal the authority to remove barriers that might otherwise prevent a beneficiary from successfully filing or pursuing an appeal.

Enrolling in Medicare During the Coronavirus Emergency

During the public health emergency caused by the coronavirus, Social Security Administration (SSA) offices across the country closed their physical doors and moved all operations to online and telephone platforms. SSA created a new resource page to keep the public updated and explain how to access services amid the office closures. Anything affecting access to SSA has an impact on people applying for Medicare coverage, as SSA is the agency that handles enrollment. Importantly, Medicare enrollment continues, though people may encounter some delays.

CMS Releases Interim Final Rule for Medicare Policy During the Coronavirus Emergency Period

On April 6, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)—the agency that oversees the Medicare program—published an interim final rule (IFR) with comment period, Policy and Regulatory Revisions in Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency. The IFR reinterprets and clarifies several Medicare rules and policies for the duration of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) emergency period, often to increase access to telehealth services. The rule is retroactive to March 1, and comments on the rule are due June 1.

The CARES Act Provides Economic Stimulus and Health Care Changes

Last week, a third bill intended to address the coronavirus pandemic through economic stimulus and important financial and health safety provisions was passed by Congress and signed into law by the president. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is a massive legislative package that is likely to have some effect on all residents of the U.S., including people with Medicare and their families.

Cash Assistance Coming for Many Americans, but Hurdles Remain

Signed into law last week, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is the third coronavirus-related legislative package to pass Congress. Among the $2 trillion bill’s health care and economic changes is a plan to send up to $1,200 in cash assistance to millions of Americans.

CMS Releases Coronavirus Guidance for Medicare Advantage and Part D Plans

On March 10, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued guidance around the requirements and flexibilities Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, Part D plans, and certain Medicare-Medicaid plans have to help provide health care coverage to people with Medicare for coronavirus testing, treatments, and prevention. The guidance identifies what plan sponsors must do during a disaster or emergency as declared by their states, and also what the plans are permitted to do. Since the issuance of the guidance, some of the optional flexibilities have become mandatory due to passage of federal legislation.

Medicare Rights Outlines Recommendations for Future Action Around Coronavirus

Older adults and people with disabilities are at high risk of infection and serious illness from coronavirus. While we appreciate the efforts of policymakers to date to respond to the outbreak, more must be done to anticipate and meet the unique needs of people with Medicare. This week, Medicare Rights sent letters to Congress and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), outlining our priorities and recommendations for future action.

Congress Passes Additional Measures to Address Medicare Coverage and Costs Related to Coronavirus

This week, Congress passed legislation (H.R. 6201) that waives all Medicare beneficiary cost-sharing for coronavirus testing and the associated doctor’s office visit.

The legislation contains a number of other provisions that also advance critical health care and fiscal priorities, including enhanced federal Medicaid funding for states, support for nutrition services, unemployment aid, and paid sick leave. The package is the second coronavirus bill to pass Congress. Earlier this month, Congress provided $8.3 billion in emergency appropriations to improve public health preparedness and response.