A Message from the Executive Director
Dear Community Members:
We have been busy at the Center this summer- even with the lovely long, warm days. Our advocacy has been focusing on enhancing access to health services and medical equipment for people with long-term and chronic conditions.
In August we launched an Action Campaign to alert the Medicare agency that our community objects to a misguided policy that is removing or limiting the usefulness of, Speech Generating Devices (SGDs). These devices are used by people who have ALS, MS and other debilitating conditions who can no longer speak – and often can no longer even use their hands. When fully functioning, these devices allow people to communicate through a computer-generated "voice," email and texting. Unfortunately, Medicare is implementing new policies that refuse payment for many of the devices, and limit access to their communication functions. This is not only cruel, it can also be dangerous for people who are left with no way to make their needs known.
In response to our Action Campaign, our Community sent over 42,000 messages to policy-makers urging them to reverse these terrible policies! And we are being heard!
Thank you all who responded. And watch for more opportunities to help – we’ll be sending them soon.
Wishing you and yours a fine transition to Fall –
News You Can Use
- The Center For Medicare Advocacy Filed a Suit to Challenge the Unjust and Inefficient Medicare Appeals Process
On June 4, 2014, the Center filed a lawsuit in United States District Court in Connecticut against the Secretary of Health and Human Services, on behalf of plaintiffs who have been denied a meaningful review of their Medicare claims at the first two levels of appeal (Redetermination and Reconsideration). The case was brought as a class action, and the four named plaintiffs represent thousands of Medicare beneficiaries who cannot get a meaningful review of their case, and instead receive an initial denial of coverage that is essentially "rubber stamped" at both the Redetermination and Reconsideration levels. The problem persists throughout the country. Read more.
- Speaking of Broken Appeals Systems, the Center Also Filed Suit to Fix a Problem at the Hearing Level
On August 26, 2014, the Center for Medicare Advocacy filed a nationwide class action lawsuit in United States District Court (Lessler et al. v. Burwell, 3:14-CV-1230, D. Conn.). The five named plaintiffs, from Connecticut, New York and Ohio, have all waited longer than the statutory 90-day limit for a decision on their Medicare Administrative Law Judge appeal. The current average wait time is over five times the Congressionally mandated time limit. Read more.
Legislative & Policy Watch
- Here's Some Good News for Medicare: Trustees Report Reveals Medicare Is Solvent Beyond 2013 Projections
In July, The Medicare Trustees' annual report found the life of the Medicare Trust Fund has been extended another four years since their 2013 report, and an additional 13 years from their last projection before the Affordable Care Act passed. The annual report confirms that Medicare continues to provide cost-effective health insurance for more than 50 million older and disabled beneficiaries – and that the Affordable Care Act strengthened Medicare.
- Similarly, the Congressional Budget Office also found that "Reduced costs for medical services and labor have trimmed the 10-year projected cost of Medicare and Medicaid by $89 billion." Read more.
Be part of the moment. Be one of the voices heard in Washington, DC – and throughout the country!
Become a Member of the CMA Community today. Be part of a group of dedicated advocates working to:
- Prevent short-sighted decisions from harming vulnerable people’s access to health care;
- Stop wasteful overpayments to private insurance and drug companies; and
- Keep the traditional program strong for 50 million Medicare beneficiaries nationwide.
From keeping informed about current issues and legislation, to contacting Congress about important issues like our recent Action Alert on Speech Generating Devices (SGD), CMA Community Members help ensure access to Medicare and health care for older people and people with disabilities.
Help us Help Others, and See Your Contribution Matched!
The Atlantic Philanthropies foundation will match all new and increased donations. Your support will allow us to continue the fight to end the harmful use of observation status and the Improvement Standard, as well as fighting to maintain a strong Medicare program today and for generations to come. Thank you for helping us help others. https://org.salsalabs.com/o/777/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=10613
CMA in the Community
In addition to our SGD work these last few weeks, we remain hard at work on other Key issues:
- Senior Policy Attorney Toby S. Edelman appeared in The New York Times discussing nursing home quality. Her take: "the very worst facilities… are self-reporting data that gives them very high staffing and very high quality measures.” Read the full article.
- Executive Director Judith Stein was in USA Today regarding Observation Status and the "2-Midnight Rule," saying patients "are still regularly being harmed" by outpatient/observation status. Read the full article.
- Toby was also interviewed on WBAI radio regarding Observation Status. Click on the icon to the right to hear the full interview.
- Center to Host 2nd Annual National Voices of Medicare Summit and Jay Rockefeller Lecture. Our own experts will be joined in lectures and panel discussions by luminaries including. Early-Bird Registration is open now.
- The Center would like to thank the Jeffrey P. Ossen Family Foundation for their continued support of our outreach to non-English speakers in our community. Pictured at right, Elizabeth Maldonado of the Center, Executive Director Judith Stein, and Eileen Ossen.