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A Message from the Executive Director

Dear CMA Community:

It’s autumn here in Connecticut, the leaves have already turned and the trees are becoming bare. Autumn is quickly turning to Fall.  In the Medicare world this means it’s open enrollment season.

Through December 7th Medicare beneficiaries can choose how they want to receive their Medicare coverage in 2015.  They can choose traditional Medicare with a stand-alone Part D plan for prescription drug coverage or a private Medicare Advantage plan with a Part D option, or a separate Part D plan. Choices made during this enrollment period will be effective January 1, 2015.

Many people will want a Medigap insurance plan to make traditional Medicare more cost-effective. Some beneficiaries may be eligible for help paying Medicare premiums and co-payments. There is a lot to consider. The main thing is that all beneficiaries should make a new decision for 2015 – even if they were happy with their Medicare in 2014, they should review their coverage needs carefully. Frequently, Medicare Advantage plans change their offerings and network of physicians, health care providers and facilities.  Often Part D plans change the drugs they will cover.

So, beneficiaries, remember the old adage:  Look before you leap!  Be sure your physicians will be in the Medicare Advantage plan you think you want. Be sure your drugs are covered by the Part D plan you have in mind. If you travel or have family away from your home, remember you can get coverage through traditional Medicare anywhere in the country. Medicare Advantage will generally only cover emergencies outside your geographic area. 

Need help thinking all this through?  Visit www.shiptalk.org  to find your State Health Insurance and Assistance Program (SHIP).  But don’t wait.  December 7th is fast approaching.

Judith Stein
Executive Director

News You Can Use

  • New Center Hopes to Improve Support for Home- and Community-based Care

The National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research and the Administration for Community Living have awarded a five-year, $4.3 million grant to the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) to establish a new, multi-institutional center to study ways to improve support services for family members who care for older adults and those with disabilities.  More than 65 million family caregivers in the U.S. help 12 million seniors and people with disabilities to live at home, currently with very little support.  Read more.  

  • Washington Post Consumer Guide to Hospice

In the absence of federal data, the Washington Post has created a hospice guide on its website.   The Post gathered data from government sources on more than 3,000 hospices that participate in Medicare.  The guide covers the whole country, and includes data on years of operation, accreditation, average daily spending by type, crisis care, patient count, live discharge rate, and profit margins.  The tool is available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/business/hospice-quality/

Legislative & Policy Watch

  • Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D. CT) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D.CT) joined Center for Medicare Advocacy executive director Judith Stein and the Medicare Rights Center's Joe Baker for an audio news conference to discuss the Medicare Advantage Participants Bill of Rights Act (H.R. 4998 / S. 2552), introduced by Rep. DeLauro and co-sponsored by Sen. Blumenthal and Sen. Sherrod Brown (D.OH).  Read more.
     
  • IMPACT Act
    The President signed the Improving Medicare Post-Acute Care Transformation Act of 2014 (IMPACT Act), bipartisan legislation that puts in place new and streamlined data collection measures for nursing homes, home health agencies, and other post-acute care providers participating in Medicare.  Read more.
     
  • New Executive Actions to Improve Quality of Care for Medicare Beneficiaries
    The Administration recently issued a Fact Sheet outlining Executive Actions to improve quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries.  You can see complete details at http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/10/06/fact-sheet-administration-announces-new-executive-actions-improve-qualit.  The proposed actions would improve Medicare’s Five Star Quality Rating System for nursing homes and improve quality home health care received by Medicare beneficiaries.

Take Action!

  • Be part of our inaugural Members Call on November 19th.  Get unprecedented access to some of the greatest Medicare advocates in the country. Become a Member of the CMA Community today.  
  • First, there was Black Friday, and then there was Cyber Monday. Now, there's #GivingTuesday – a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. Thousands of nonprofit organizations and millions of people are taking part in #GivingTuesday on December 2, raising millions of dollars for nonprofit organizations.  We will be participating, and hope you will too.  But if you want to get a head start, you can also donate today at https://org.salsalabs.com/o/777/p/salsa/donation/common/public/?donate_page_KEY=10613

CMA in the Community

  • Executive Director Judith Stein was honored by the Connecticut Long Term Care Ombudsman Program at their annual meeting on October 15th.  Ms. Stein received the Carol Rosenwald Award in appreciation of her commitment to protecting the rights of nursing home residents.
  • 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 Representative Rosa DeLauro (D.CT); Patricia Neuman, Senior Vice President, Kaiser Family Foundation; Bruce Vladeck, former Health Care Finance Administration (now CMS) Administrator; and Julie Rovner of NPR and Kaiser Health News .  Early-Bird Registration is open now.
  • The Center would like to thank Ms. Marcia Baran for her kind donation. Center Attorney Angela Ciottone got Ms. Baran started on an appeal, and after a successful decision Ms. Baran graciously offered a donation to the Center. 

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