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Today’s Hot Topics in Medicare News

Medicare participants can make switch before March 31

BY KIMBERLY COWLES and MICHAEL REISERT: As most of you know, the Medicare Open Enrollment for 2018 ended Dec. 7.

This was the time we were allowed to change Medicare Advantage plans and Part D prescription plans.

If you didn’t take advantage of this time, you have to wait until this year’s Open Enrollment period, which runs from Oct. 15 to Dec. 7.

What most people don’t realize is that there is also another opportunity to change plans, from an Advantage plan back to Original Medicare. (read more)

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There's never been an easy way for Medicare beneficiaries to save on services and products not covered by Medicare alone, until now.

The Health 202: Health-care industry preps offense against Medicare-for-All

BY PAIGE WINFIELD CUNNINGHAM: Democrats newly in control of the House are sending quivers of fear throughout the U.S. health-care industry as they begin advancing Medicare-for-All measures that could result in a big financial blow to private health insurers, hospitals and doctors.

Industry leaders — who have united to fight what they view as a threat to the country’s existing patchwork system of public and private payers — told me they’re planning to ramp up advertising and lobbying efforts this year to argue against such a dramatic overhaul of the health insurance system, saying education is all that’s needed to turn more Americans against the idea. (read more)

Medicare Advantage signups jump by 200,000

BY CHRISTOPHER SNOWBECK: Large numbers of Medicare beneficiaries facing a big shift in coverage for 2019 moved to Medicare Advantage health plans, apparently drawn to their low premiums and steered there by insurers.

But it’s left some wondering if more switching could be coming over the next few months, as patients start using coverage that can feature tighter access to doctors and hospitals.

“We don’t know what we’re going to see in January, February and March when people start wanting to go to the doctor,” said Kelli Jo Greiner of the Minnesota Board on Aging. “If they find out their provider doesn’t participate … they may want to change plans.” (read more)

CMS Tackles Drug Costs with New Medicare Advantage, Part D Models

BY JESSICA KENT: CMS’s Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation has launched a new payment model and updated an existing model aimed at helping Medicare Part D and Medicare Advantage plans to lower drug prices and better serve patients.

“Expanding choices for patients, aligning incentives, and providing new flexibility for insurers in Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D will deliver better value from these programs,” said HHS Secretary Alex Azar. 

“The models being announced today create new incentives for plans, patients, and providers to choose drugs with lower list prices, and new ways to meet the unique healthcare needs of specific populations, prevent disease, and expand the use of telehealth. Today’s announcement draws on successes we have already seen in Medicare and advances our priority of using HHS programs to build a value-driven healthcare system.” (read more)

Sen. Harris Platform: Medicare-for-All, Middle Class Tax Credit

BY STEVE VERNON: Sen. Kamala Harris’ 2020 campaign platform includes a monthly tax credit for middle-class families, a Medicare-for-all healthcare system, pursuing a reduction in mortality rates and changes in immigration and bail overhauls to reduce the federal prison population, The Washington Post reports.

Sen. Harris, D-Calif., on Monday announced she would be seeking the Democratic nomination for president, launching her campaign among an already crowded field. (read more)

The new Medicare Plus Card saves you up to 75% on things not covered by Medicare

Medicare doesn’t cover everything. Luckily, those on Medicare can now start saving on out of pocket expenses like prescription drugs, dental, vision, hearing, and more. Over 1 million people have already received their free Medicare Plus Card.

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