Category

Uncategorized

Beneficiary Advocates Urge Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to Correct Inaccuracies in Medicare & You Handbook for 2019

By | PRESS RELEASE, Uncategorized | No Comments

Washington, DC – The Center for Medicare Advocacy, Justice in Aging and the Medicare Rights Center sent a joint letter to Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), on May 15, 2018, objecting to serious inaccuracies in the draft Medicare & You Handbook for 2019, and urging CMS to rectify the errors prior to disseminating the Medicare & You Handbook.

Medicare & You is the official government publication designed to provide beneficiaries with factual information about the Medicare program, their choices for obtaining coverage, and the benefits they can expect. Unfortunately, the draft 2019 Handbook includes inaccurate descriptions of the differences between Original Medicare and private Medicare Advantage plans. Without fair and accurate information, older adults, people with disabilities and their families cannot make informed choices about their health care coverage.

The letter to Ms. Verma voiced the three organizations’ concerns that the draft 2019 Handbook distorts and mischaracterizes essential facts on which beneficiaries rely to make decisions about their coverage. First, it does not adequately inform beneficiaries of the significant limitations on choices of health care providers if they choose a Medicare Advantage plan rather than Original Medicare. In addition, it presents prior authorization in Medicare Advantage plans as a “right” that is not available in Original Medicare, rather than acknowledging that it is a requirement, an extra step mandated for Medicare Advantage members before they are permitted to access care. Further, the draft 2019 Handbook inaccurately implies that Medicare Advantage is the less expensive option for all beneficiaries. This sweeping generalization ignores the many variables that people with Medicare must consider in evaluating and selecting coverage that is most affordable and best suited for their needs.

Judith Stein, executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, noted, “These can literally be life and death decisions. CMS has a duty to provide complete, unbiased information to help beneficiaries make the best choice for their Medicare coverage. Regrettably, the current version of Medicare & You does not fully and fairly inform people of the pros and cons of Original Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage. The draft Handbook needs to be corrected before it is published and sent to beneficiaries.”

Kevin Prindiville, Executive Director of Justice in Aging stated: “Several proposed changes in the Handbook distort basic facts about how Medicare Advantage and Original Medicare work. People with Medicare rely on Medicare & You for accurate and objective information. If these changes were adopted, beneficiaries would not have the information they need to make fully informed decisions about their Medicare coverage.”

Joe Baker, President of the Medicare Rights Center, stated: “From the Medicare Rights Center’s experience assisting people with Medicare and their families, we know how challenging it can be for beneficiaries to make the best coverage decision for their unique circumstances. The Medicare & You Handbook must support this decision-making process by accurately describing the rules, restrictions, and benefits of both Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage. Regardless of the coverage they ultimately select, all people with Medicare deserve the opportunity to make an informed choice. We commend CMS for incorporating many of the language changes we suggested in prior years, and urge the agency to address our concerns with the draft 2019 Handbook prior to its publication.”

Read the letter here.

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

Justice in Aging is a national non-profit legal advocacy organization that fights senior poverty through law. Formerly the National Senior Citizens Law Center, since 1972 we’ve worked for access to affordable health care and economic security for older adults with limited resources, focusing especially on populations that have traditionally lacked legal protection such as women, people of color, LGBT individuals, and people with limited English proficiency.

The Medicare Rights Center 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. 

# # #

Contact: Vanessa Barrington
510-256-1200 direct
vbarrington@justiceinaging.org

Graham-Cassidy ACA Repeal & Replace Proposal: New Name, Same Attacks on Older Adults

By | Affordable Care Act, BLOG, Health Care, Health Care Defense, Medicaid, Uncategorized | No Comments
Senators Graham and Cassidy recently released the lone remaining proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Graham-Cassidy plan once again takes direct aim at Medicaid to pay for tax cuts and provisions that primarily benefit the wealthy and makes even more harmful changes to the ACA than the bills the Senate voted on in July. Any of its provisions alone or in combination would be devastating for older adults, people with disabilities and anyone with limited income and are counter to the current bipartisan efforts to improve the ACA. Read More

Justice in Aging statement on the Amended AHCA

By | Health Care Defense, PRESS RELEASE, Uncategorized | No Comments

Below is a statement opposing the amended version of the American Health Care Act from Kevin Prindiville, Executive Director of Justice in Aging:

“The new version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is even worse than the previous one for the older adults in our communities. The new version of the bill includes all of the devastating cuts of the old version, and also further weakens important protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”

“Eight in ten older adults ages 55-64 have pre-existing conditions. The MacArthur amendment would allow insurance companies to discriminate against those with pre-existing conditions by charging them sharply higher premiums, taking us back to pre-ACA days when these older adults couldn’t visit a doctor because they couldn’t afford to purchase insurance.”
Read More

Judge Approves Settlement with Social Security Administration in Hart v. Berryhill

By | PRESS RELEASE, Uncategorized | No Comments

Oakland, CA – On Thursday, March 16, Judge Jon S. Tigar of the Northern District of California granted final approval of the settlement agreement in Hart v. Berryhill, a case filed on behalf of over 4,000 residents of the broader Bay Area and Central Coast whose disability benefits were denied or terminated, based on medical reports of a disqualified physician.

Morrison & Foerster LLP, Justice in Aging, and Legal Aid Society of San Mateo County filed the case against the Social Security Administration (SSA) in 2015 challenging the agency’s reliance on the medical reports of a disqualified physician to make disability eligibility decisions. The physician had been disqualified from performing medical exams for the agency after numerous complaints about their quality and accuracy, and his failure to correct his practices after warnings from the agency, yet the agency continued to rely on his reports. The parties have agreed to a settlement that will allow many plaintiffs to have their disability status redecided.
Read More

Advocates Warn Congress of Dangerous Consequences of ACA Repeal and Delay for Seniors and People with Disabilities

By | PRESS RELEASE, Uncategorized | No Comments

OAKLAND – On January 13, 2017, the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Justice in Aging, Medicare Rights Center and 65 other organizations that represent older adults and people with disabilities wrote Congressional leadership expressing grave concern about repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In particular, the organizations urge that any legislation to repeal the ACA be rejected unless it is accompanied by a detailed replacement plan that provides American families with equal or improved access to high-quality, affordable health coverage.

“Repealing the ACA without an immediate replacement could cause 30 million Americans who rely on expanded Medicaid and the individual market to lose health coverage. Over 4.5 million people ages 55 to 64 could lose coverage and the share of uninsured people in this age group could double—from 8% to 19%,” the letter cautioned. Read More

WEBINAR: Oral Health Basics for Low-Income Older Adults

By | Uncategorized, WEBINAR | No Comments
When: Thursday, January 19, 2017 11:00 a.m. PT/ 2:00 p.m. ET

Low-income older adults have significant oral health needs. Unfortunately, they face serious obstacles to obtaining care in large part due to complex and limited health insurance options. This webinar, Oral Health Basics for Low-Income Older Adults, provides a summary of what dental coverage options are available to older adults, a summary of covered and non-covered benefits, how different coverage options work together, and other barriers older adults face in accessing dental care. The webinar also provides advocates and community-based providers the opportunity to share what their clients are experiencing. Read More

WEBINAR: Strategies & Promising Practices for Addressing Dementia Care and Wandering Behaviors in HCBS Settings

By | Uncategorized, WEBINAR | No Comments
When: Wednesday, January 11, 2017 10:00 a.m. PT/ 1:00 p.m. ET

States currently are modifying their Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) programs to comply with new federal regulations that prioritize independence and community integration for HCBS beneficiaries. An important, recurring question is how to apply these principles to beneficiaries living with dementia or other conditions that may result in wandering or exit-seeking behaviors.

This webinar, Strategies & Promising Practices for Addressing Dementia Care and Wandering Behaviors in HCBS Settings, presented promising practices in HCBS delivery for settings supporting individuals living with dementia, with a special focus on strategies for addressing wandering or exit-seeking behaviors. The webinar included a discussion of how the federal and state governments are addressing the provision of supports to individuals living with dementia in the process of bringing states into compliance with the 2014 federal HCBS regulations. The material presented will be useful for advocates, service providers, and others with an interest in HCBS and dementia care. Read More

NALC Meets the National Center on Law and Elder Rights

By | BLOG, HOMEPAGE, Uncategorized | No Comments
On October 29, aging advocates closed out another successful annual National Aging and Law Conference (NALC) in Alexandria, Virginia. Unpacking, I sifted through the usual post-conference paper trail tornado: hotel notepads scribbled with ideas, business cards of inspiring advocates, and brochures from innovative legal programs. Reading through these materials, a few words kept popping up-partnership, engagement, coordination, capacity. Read More

WEBINAR: Medicaid Non-Emergency Medical Transportation: An Overlooked Lifeline for Older Adults

By | Medicaid, Uncategorized, WEBINAR | No Comments
When: Thursday, November 3, 2016 11:00 a.m. PT

Non-emergency medical transportation is a critical benefit ensuring that Medicaid beneficiaries have transportation to medical services. This webinar reviewed this increasingly important component of health care for low-income older adults and people with disabilities; explored challenges to accessing the benefit; shared examples of state strategies to overcome those challenges.

Read More