Today’s Hot Topics in Medicare News

New Medicare cards lead to increase in scams

BY LAUREN KAHL: A recent change to Medicare cards is raising concerns about scams.

Missouri Senior Medicare Patrol is concerned about an increase in scams because of new Medicare cards recently issued in Missouri. The user’s Social Security number was removed from the cards, causing more phone call scams to get personal information and collect money for fraudulent services.

“Medicare is not going to call you and ask you for your information that goes for Social Security, the IRS, banks,” Senior Medicare Director Rona McNally of Missouri SMP, said. “They have your information.”

If you call Medicare officials, they will ask questions to verify your identity. However, they will not call you to ask for personal information. (read more)

Not happy with your Medicare Advantage plan? CMS allows seniors to switch one time through March 31

BY STEVE TWEDT: Here’s some Medicare news you may have missed: Seniors who regret their Medicare Advantage choice for 2019 can make a one-time switch to another plan between now and March 31.

It’s just coincidence that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services would offer a three-month extended Medicare Advantage open enrollment period nationwide this year. A year ago, those unhappy with their Medicare Advantage decision only had the option of switching to traditional Medicare coverage.

By now allowing people to move from one Medicare Advantage plan to another, beneficiaries have an opportunity to test drive the plan coverage to see if it lives up to the promises or, in some cases, the hype. (read more)

AMGA supports effort to expand telehealth services to Medicare Advantage


The American Medical Group Association strongly supports a proposed rule to broaden the spectrum of telehealth services offered to Medicare Advantage enrollees.

In October, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services issued a proposal to expand telehealth benefits within the MA program—starting in 2020—beyond what is currently available to those beneficiaries in fee-for-service Medicare.

AMGA, representing more than 175,000 physicians who deliver care to one in three Americans, applauds the CMS initiative to remove restrictions that prevent Medicare providers from leveraging telehealth services to improve outcomes for beneficiaries. (read more)

Shilpa Medicare gets USFDA nod for cancer treatment injection

BY PTI: Shilpa Medicare on Tuesday said it has received approval from the US health regulator for Irinotecan HCL injection, used for treatment of certain kind of cancers.

The company has received US Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) approval for its ANDA Irinotecan HCL injection USP in the strengths 40 mg/2mL and 100 mg/5mL (20mg/mL) single dose vials, Shilpa Medicare said in a BSE filing.

Irinotecan injection is used in the treatment of patients with metastatic carcinoma of the colon or rectum, the company added. (read more)

OPINION: FEHB and Medicare Considerations

BY REG JONES: If you are covered by the Federal Employees Health Benefits program, do you still need to be covered by Medicare? Or put another way, if you have Medicare, do you still need to be covered by the FEHB program? After all, Medicare Part A is free – you paid for that coverage while you were employed – and the premiums for plans in the FEHB program keep going up every year. Let’s see.

Medicare Part A only covers hospital costs. In order to get coverage for physicians’ services, you’d have to enroll in Medicare Part B. And every year the premiums for Part B keep going up. For 2019, the monthly premium for an individual with income of $85,000 or less ($170,000 if filing jointly) is $135.50 a month. The premiums rise for those with higher income, in 2019 up to $460.50 a month.

So, the question becomes, is the combination of Medicare Part A and B enough? Or, looked at another way, is FEHB coverage coupled with Medicare Part A enough? (read more)

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