HCAOA partnered this week with the Better Medicare Alliance and more than 50 senior health organizations to send a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader, Chuck Schumer to thank Congress for taking steps to protect Medicare Advantage beneficiaries when adding new benefits, such as dental, vision and hearing benefits, and encouraging lawmakers to keep this language in the final bill.
Last week, President Biden announced vaccine mandates for workers in “most health care settings” that receive Medicare or Medicaid reimbursement. This includes hospitals, dialysis facilities, ambulatory surgical settings, and home health agencies. HCAOA continues to monitor this development and those of various states to determine the impact on home care agencies providing personal care.
Social and Economic Factors Drive 40% of Health Outcomes: Better Medicare Alliance Releases Report on Social Determinants of Health
As many HCAOA members know, the Medicare Advantage landscape is changing quickly! Health plans can now offer additional supplemental benefits and services that are not primarily health-related and that target beneficiaries with certain chronic conditions. These changes led to a dramatic increase in plan activity to address social needs and prompted new business and technology innovations. To further dive into the changes happening surrounding social determinants of health (SDOH) or “the non-medical factors that influence health outcomes,” last week Better Medicare Alliance released a new study conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago that outlines the many ways Medicare Advantage is taking action to address social determinants of health while acknowledging the barriers that still remain, and offering solutions for reform.
PHI recently released a report, Federal Policy Priorities for the Direct Care Workforce, offering detailed federal policy recommendations to strengthen the direct care workforce across eight key areas: financing, compensation, training, workforce interventions, data collection, direct care worker leadership, equity, and the public narrative. COVID-19 put the direct care workforce in the spotlight more than ever before - reinforcing the value of these workers.
Daniel Tsai has been named the new CMS Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services. In this role, Tsai will be responsible for leading CMS efforts around health equity and serving vulnerable populations, including seniors. Prior to his appointment, Tsai served as the Assistant Secretary for MassHealth (the Massachusetts Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program) and as Medicaid Director at the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
This week, the Better Medicare Alliance announced Mary Beth Donahue as the next President and CEO of the organization. Donahue previously served in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, serving as Chief of Staff to HHS Secretary Donna E. Shalala during the critical early days of Medicare Advantage as “Medicare+Choice.”
Last week, CMS announced it would offer an additional payment of $35 per dose for providers administering in-home COVID-19 vaccinations to Medicare beneficiaries. There are approximately 1.6 million adults 65 or older who may have trouble accessing COVID-19 vaccinations because they have difficulty leaving home. For agencies who also do home health, training before vaccine administration is important for all staff.
HCAOA Partnering with ATI Advisory to Offer Members an ACTION PLAN for Exploring Medicare Advantage as a New Revenue Source
In the several years since CMS permitted Medicare Advantage plans to offer home care as a supplemental benefit, HCAOA has been encouraging members to keep this on their radar as a potential new source for revenue. It’s been a slow start, but today 296 Medicare Advantage plans cover home care - and that number is growing. The time is NOW for home care agencies to develop an action plan to get involved with these networks and open up a whole new revenue stream.
Brooks-LaSure previously served as a senior CMS official under the Obama administration and worked for the House Ways and Means Committee. In addition, she would be the first Black woman to hold the post if her nomination is confirmed by the U.S. Senate. On May 27, following a bipartisan confirmation by the U.S. Senate, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra formally swore in Chiquita Brooks-LaSure as Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“State of Medicare Advantage” 2021 Report Released: 296 Plans Specifically Offering In-Home Support Services
The Better Medicare Alliance recently unveiled their annual “State of Medicare Advantage” report for 2021 which shows a significant increase in near-universal satisfaction, greater consumer savings, and better health outcomes in Medicare Advantage, as compared to Traditional FFS Medicare. More Medicare Advantage plans are covering home-based care services in 2021 than ever before. Within the State of Medicare Advantage report, readers can also access an additional brief called “Overview of Medicare Advantage Supplemental Healthcare Benefits and Review of Contract Year 2021 Offerings” that provides specifics on home care benefit offerings under Medicare Advantage plans. Figure 2 of this brief details a summary of expanded supplemental benefits. All of the home care benefit offerings have expanded significantly since 2019 and 2020.