Today’s Hot Topics in Medicare News

Retiring past age 65? How to avoid costly Medicare mistakes

BY SARAH O’BRIEN: If you’ve already turned 65 and are getting close to saying goodbye to full-time work, make sure Medicare is on your must-tend-to checklist.

While it’s common for people working past that age to stick with a company-sponsored health plan and delay enrolling in Medicare, impending retirement means you should be planning ahead to avoid a coverage gap or costly missed deadlines.  (read more)

New “Prescription for Medicare” Campaign Focuses on Impacts of Wrong and Right Solutions for Medicare

BY JULIET JOHNSON: Today, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) is launching the “Prescription for Medicare” campaign which focuses on ensuring that changes made to Medicare are the right prescription for seniors.

There’s a lot of talk in Washington right now about changing Medicare Parts B and D to reduce costs. But there are many proposals that are the wrong prescriptions for Medicare, and the seniors and people with disabilities who rely on it, that could jeopardize access and fail to help patients afford their medicines. At the same time, there are proposals that would be the right prescriptions, helping seniors and people with disabilities better access and afford the medicines they need. This new campaign will drive a discussion about how we can productively make changes to Medicare that help the patients who depend on its coverage to access and afford their medicines. (read more)

Dingell Continues Efforts for Hearing Aid Coverage Under Medicare

BY DEBBIE DINGELL OFFICE: In recognition of World Hearing Day this week, Congresswoman Debbie Dingell (D-MI) reintroduced the Medicare Hearing Aid Coverage Act that would expand Medicare to cover hearing aids for beneficiaries. Medicare does not currently cover hearing aids, which have an average price of about $2,500.

Hearing loss affects nearly 48 million Americans and, left untreated, has serious emotional, social and medical consequences for older adults. Research has shown older adults with hearing loss are 32 percent more likely to require hospitalization, face a 24 percent increased risk for cognitive impairment and increasingly suffer from isolation and depression. A 10-year longitudinal study of patients in Baltimore found that those with hearing loss had a higher probability of developing dementia, with the probability rising as the severity of the hearing loss increased. (read more)

Medicare Advantage insurers rail against “encounter data” to CMS

BY SHELBY LIVINGSTON: While Medicare Advantage insurers are excited about getting more flexibility to tailor supplemental benefits for chronically ill patients in 2020, they aren’t happy with the CMS’ plan to increase the use of “encounter data” to calculate their payments.

In the more than 200 comments on the 2020 Medicare Advantage and Part D Advance Notice and call letter, insurers were generally supportive of CMS’ plan to expand the supplemental benefits that plans may offer their chronically ill patients to include things like nonmedical transportation and home-delivered meals or produce, as called for by the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018. (read more)

Medicare Reimbursement Changes Coming for Kidney Care, Dialysis

BY JACQUELINE LAPOINTE: HHS is reexamining Medicare reimbursement structures in kidney care that encourage more dialysis center treatment, rather than home-based care or even transplants.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar made the announcement at the sixth annual Kidney Patient Summit, led by the National Kidney Foundation, on March 4 in Washington DC.

“Today, I want to lay out what it would look like to pay for kidney health, rather than kidney disease—and pay for Americans with kidney disease to actually get good outcomes, rather than the endless, life-consuming procedures that you all know so well,” he told attendees.  (read more)

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