Today’s Hot Topics in Medicare News

The New Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period: Your Chance To Find A Better Match

BY DIANE OMDAHL: The Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment Period goes from January 1 until March 31. Beneficiaries have many questions about what they can and can’t do during this time. Maybe, this old bridal rhyme might help end the confusion.

Something oldThe chance to drop a Medicare Advantage plan.

The “old” that carries over from the previous disenrollment period is the ability of beneficiaries to disenroll from (drop) their Medicare Advantage plan. They would return automatically to Original Medicare, Part A, hospital insurance, and Part B, medical insurance, and enroll in a Part D drug plan. (read more)

House progressives unveil their Medicare for all bill

BY TAMI LUHBY: House progressive Democratic leaders are set to unveil their own sweeping version of Medicare for all Wednesday, looking to put their stamp on a key legislative priority that’s pushing the party to the left both in Congress and the 2020 presidential primary.

The bill is sponsored by Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington, Debbie Dingell of Michigan and supported by more than 100 others. It’s similar both to prior Senate legislation from independentSen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont and a House version that had been introduced several times by former Rep. John Conyers of Michigan. (read more)

Healthcare lobbies against ‘Medicare for All’: 3 things to know

BY MORGAN HAEFNER: Several healthcare groups, including the American Hospital Association and Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans, have joined coalitions that oppose “Medicare for All” plans, according to The New York Times.

Three things to know: 

1. While 2020 presidential hopefuls incorporate Medicare for All into their platforms, hospitals, physicians, drugmakers and insurers are lobbying against the idea and proposed legislation.  (read more)

Hospitals’ all-payer margins climb in 2017 even as Medicare margins slump

BY SHELBY LIVINGSTON: Preliminary data from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission shows hospitals’ Medicare margins continue to decline, reaching their lowest point in 2017 in at least a decade. Even so, hospitals’ all-payer margins continued their upward trek.

In aggregate, U.S. hospitals’ Medicare margin was negative 9.9% in 2017, compared with negative 9.7% in 2016, according to MedPAC. The commission noted that the results are preliminary and subject to change. MedPAC publishes a report to Congress each March with finalized data. (read more)

Is new app from feds your answer to navigating Medicare coverage?

BY RACHEL BLUTH: The iPhone and Android app, which launched Feb. 6, is called “What’s Covered,” and true to its name, it mostly answers one simple, yes-or-no question: Is this medical procedure covered by traditional Medicare?

Milt Roney, a 71-year-old retired government worker in a well-to-do suburb of Washington, D.C., agreed to check out the app with me, though he was skeptical from the outset.

“I wouldn’t use an app like that,” Roney said. “(My procedures are) going to be covered, and I’m not going to worry about it.”  (read more)

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