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A Message from the Executive Director

Since I wrote you last month, the Center for Medicare Advocacy hosted our 1st Annual National Voices of Medicare Summit in Washington, DC.  This all-day conference brought together advocates, policy-makers, economists, and scholars who work to improve Medicare and access to quality health care. We heard directly from and about the people who rely on Medicare. We also considered the needs of the direct care workers who provide services and support to maximize the independence of older people and people with disabilities. Learn more about this energizing and inspiring day – and join us in 2015!

Judith Stein
Executive Director

News You Can Use

  • Affordable Care Act: Last Day for Open Enrollment in the Health Insurance Marketplace

If you don’t enroll by March 31st, you won’t be able to buy a plan on the Marketplace until the next open enrollment season unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period. Remember, if you go uninsured in 2014 for any period of time, you may be required to pay a penalty when you file your 2014 taxes. We all need health insurance!  For more information, visit www.healthcare.gov.

  • MA Plans Continue to Complain about "Cuts" that Aren't Really Cuts

It seems like every day there is a new article about the "cuts" to Medicare Advantage… but they aren’t new, and they are good for Medicare and the economy.  Check out this LA Times article – they don’t mince words at all!  And see our recent articles on the issue

  • Skilled Nursing Facilities are Understaffed, and it Harms Patients

An analysis by the Center for Medicare Advocacy (Center) finds that the federal enforcement system cites very few facilities with staffing deficiencies and often does not impose any financial penalties, even when it finds that facilities do not have sufficient staff.  Read more.

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Legislative Watch

  • Medicare Physician Payment (SGR)

    As of Friday, March 28th, the fate of the pending Medicare physician payment cut (the so-called “sustainable growth rate” or “SGR”) remains unresolved.  Due to a flawed payment formula that Congress repeatedly addresses on only a temporary, rather than permanent, basis, physicians face an approximate 24% cut in Medicare payments on April 1st, and a number of other Medicare “extenders” will expire, including the Qualified Individual (QI) program and the exceptions process to the annual outpatient therapy caps.

    • On Thursday, March27th, the House of Representatives passed, by voice vote, a one-year “patch” of the SGR, including extenders, which would again kick the can down the road for another year, but prevent steep cuts in physician payments and preserve, at least temporarily, these important extenders.
    • The Senate is scheduled to vote on a one-year SGR patch this afternoon, Monday, March 31st.  In the meantime, Senate Finance Committee chairman Ron Wyden is still pushing a permanent repeal and replace bill (S. 2110).  Sign up for our weekly Alert for more details later this week.
       
  • Medicare Post-Acute Care (PAC) Reform

Last week, the Senate Finance and Ways & Means Committees released bipartisan draft legislation that would standardized Post-Acute Care (PAC) assessment and data collection. PAC typically refers to nursing facilities, home health, and inpatient rehabilitation hospitals.  See, 3/18/14 Ways & Means press release: http://waysandmeans.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=373213.  

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CMA In the Community

Thank you to all of our sponsors for making the 2014 National Voices of Medicare Summit and Sen. Jay Rockefeller Lecture a great success! We appreciate the support of Atlantic Philanthropies, Service Employees International Union, AARP, Service Employees International Union – Union of Long Term Care Workers, and National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys.

The Summit, held in the fantastic Barbara Jordan conference center at Kaiser Family Foundation in Washington, DC, drew a varied, energized crowd, and generated some really thought-provoking discussion. A message from Senator Jay Rockefeller set the tone nicely.

Congressman Joe Courtney (D. Conn) discusses Successful Advocacy in Challenging Times

 

 

 

 

 

Stephen McConnell, Director, U.S. Programs, Atlantic Philanthropies, introduces one of the "Voices of Medicare," A Room of Her Own, a StoryCorps video featuring one of the Center's long-time clients.

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