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Spotlight on the Federal Policy Team

The Medicare Rights’ federal policy team’s work varies day to day, but their overall strategy leads to one goal: to protect and strengthen Medicare for the 56 million individuals who depend on the program today—and the many millions more who are counting on it for the years to come.

Stacy Sanders, director of federal policy, and Julie Carter, federal policy associate, are often on Capitol Hill to educate legislators and their staff about how health care policies—current and proposed—affect people with Medicare. They also work with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide feedback on how the Medicare program is working for consumers and offer suggestions to improve it. Together with Casey Schwarz, senior counsel for education & federal policy, the policy team frequently provides in-depth responses to CMS’ requests for comments on Medicare regulatory changes.

The policy team produces policy briefs and reports to highlight systemic problems in Medicare and recommend ways to improve them, for example; publishes Medicare Watch, the weekly policy newsletter; initiates consumer “calls to action” like the petition campaign to protect the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) from being eliminated; and works with the press to get timely and accurate coverage on Medicare policy issues.

Critical to the team’s efforts is developing relationships with like-minded organizations—as well as finding common ground with unlikely partners and building strong coalitions to achieve a shared goal. Whatever endeavor the policy team is engaged in, it is always grounded in the consumer experience as learned through the many thousands of calls that Medicare Rights receives on its national helpline each year from people with Medicare and their families.

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