Last Wednesday, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a proposed rule to implement key provisions of the Medicare Access & CHIP Reauthorization Act. Passed with bipartisan support in 2015, MACRA represents is an important opportunity to improve the quality of care delivered through Medicare. Given the number of people who are enrolled in Medicare and the number of providers who see Medicare patients, these changes will have a significant impact throughout the entire health care system.
The wide spectrum of those who filed briefs proves the enormity of support for the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance in general, and the continued availability of financial help for consumers (premium tax credits) in particular. Here’s a quick look at some of the individuals and groups who filed, along with the constituencies who would suffer if the Supreme Court rules in favor of withdrawing premium tax credits in states with federally facilitated marketplaces.
2:00 p.m.—We at Families USA have had a blast the past three days. Meeting all of you hard-working advocates has been inspiring and energizing for us. Relive Health Action 2015 by checking out our highlights blog and video of our plenary session on Medicaid and CHIP.
Thanks for being a part of our 20th annual gathering in Washington, D.C., hope to see you next year!
5:30 p.m.—We just heard from two leading thinkers in health policy debate some of the most pressing issues related to access to affordable health care in America.
In a wide-ranging discussion that covered everything from Medicaid policy to children’s benefits on the exchanges to the ACA’s subsidies, these two feisty policy wonks hashed out their visions for the future while reflecting on the past year.
5:00 p.m. update—With three weeks until the end of open enrollment, one thing that distinguishes this period from last year’s is the lack of news. Things have been going pretty well.
Kevin Counihan of CMS noted that he’s grateful for the work of everyone at the conference: “This audience represents our salesforce.”
Counihan ran down the improvements CMS made to Healthcare.gov: reduced number of screens required to enroll from 76 down to 16, the site is warmer, fonts are bigger. “We’re learning.“
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) improved insurance affordability and access for all Americans, including those eligible for Medicare, Medicaid, and private coverage offered through the health insurance marketplace. It strengthened Medicare in many ways — by closing the Part D prescription drug doughnut hole, offering free preventive services, and extending the life of the Medicare trust fund. However, the ACA’s improvements to Medicaid and private market insurance highlight longstanding shortfalls in programs that assist low-income Medicare beneficiaries with their health care costs.
Today, July 30, we celebrate the 49th anniversary of one of the federal government’s most critical social insurance programs: Medicare. As the primary source of health coverage for 41 million older adults and 9 million people with disabilities, Medicare makes a huge difference in people’s lives and well-being. For the vast majority of beneficiaries, Medicare works well, and consumers are very satisfied with the health care they receive. But there is always room for improvement: Making it easier for low-income people to afford their out-of-pocket health care costs would make a good program even better.
Last week, Paul Ryan—House Budget Chairman and the likely incoming chairman of the powerful Ways and Means Committee—released a plan proposing the broad reform and streamlining of the nation’s safety net programs for the poor. Tellingly, the plan (an outline that is reportedly intended to portray a softer side of conservatism) sidesteps the budget proposals put forth by Ryan over the past four years that have actually been voted on and passed by the Republican-led House.
Congress Should Vote to Make Permanent Two Federal Programs Benefitting Low-Income Families and Individuals
Unless Congress acts quickly, funding for two federal health programs that are critical to low-income families will expire on March 31. Both the Qualified Individual (QI) program and the Transitional Medical Assistance (TMA) program are integral to providing health care to families transitioning from welfare to work and to helping low-income seniors pay their Medicare monthly premiums. Making both programs permanent is the best way to ensure that these small but important programs continue to meet the needs of the individuals who rely on them.
A recent report from the Government Accounting Office (GAO) points to one more reason why expanding health coverage under the Affordable Health Care Act (ACA) makes good economic sense. Expanding Medicaid can eliminate gaps in the health coverage of those who eventually enroll in Medicare. This drives down Medicare’s costs because enrollees tend to enroll in the program in better health.