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Advocates Urge Biden Administration to Take Immediate Action on Key Issues Facing Medicare Beneficiaries

February 9, 2021  
•  Press Releases
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Joint Statement by Medicare Rights Center and
Center for Medicare Advocacy-

Washington, DC — In a letter sent today to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Acting Secretary Norris Cochran, two leading Medicare beneficiary advocacy organizations, the Medicare Rights Center and the Center for Medicare Advocacy, urge the Biden Administration to take swift action to strengthen Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act. As outlined in the letter, matters requiring immediate attention include simplifying Medicare transitions during the COVID-19 public health emergency, enhancing Medicare outreach and enrollment strategies, and increasing regulatory review efforts. Looming deadlines and unmet needs make these improvements urgent.

In order to ensure that all Medicare-eligible individuals can access their earned Medicare benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, we urge HHS to:

  • Reinstate and strengthen COVID-19 Medicare Enrollment Flexibilities, similar to those provided to Affordable Care Act plans in an Executive Order issued on January 28;
  • Define “Hospital Inpatient” to counteract the harm caused by hospital “outpatient observation status”; and
  • Implement Telehealth Flexibilities concerning Speech Generation Devices (SGDs), to prevent people who need such devices from having to access in-person care.

With respect to Medicare outreach and enrollment, we urge HHS to launch implementation of the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Simplification (BENES) Act and guarantee objectivity in consumer tools that in recent years have inappropriately steered people towards enrollment in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans.

In order to stop harmful and often last-minute policies issued by the Trump Administration, our organizations call on HHS to include the following actions as part of their regulatory review process:

  • Immediately pause the New “Geo” Demonstration Model and the Medicaid Managed Care Organization (MCO)-based Direct Contracting Entity Model, both of which are being rushed despite important unanswered questions and issues;
  • Revise the Medicare Part D Model that weakens the protected drug classes guarantee—an important consumer protection;
  • Suspend expansion of the Medicare Home Health Value-Based Purchasing Model (HHVBP), which limits access to home care for those with longer term and chronic conditions;
  • Rescind provisions of the final 2021 Medicare Part C & D rule, which, among other things, further complicates the Part D benefit by adding another specialty drug tier, and weakens the distinction between educational and marketing events; and
  • Rescind the SUNSET Rule, which puts an arbitrary expiration date on almost all regulations issued by HHS.

With respect to policies outside of Medicare, the organizations urge HHS to ensure access to Healthcare.gov, revoke changes to Medicaid Maintenance of Effort (MOE) requirements, and restore Medicaid safeguards.

The complete letter is available here.

–end–

The Medicare Rights Center (www.medicarerights.org) is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.

The Center for Medicare Advocacy (https://www.medicareadvocacy.org) is a national, nonprofit, non-partisan law organization that works to advance access to comprehensive Medicare coverage, health equity, and quality health care for older people and people with disabilities through legal analysis, education, and advocacy.

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About Medicare Rights
The Medicare Rights Center, a national nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities.

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