Posts tagged ‘Improvement’
As the New York Times reports today, people don’t have to improve to qualify for Medicare-covered care in most settings. Unfortunately, older and disabled people are constantly told otherwise – and refused care as a result. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services could fix this pretty easily. Just issue a CMS Ruling stating definitively and clearly that skilled nursing and therapy can be covered to maintain a patient’s condition or slow deterioration. It’s the law. Disseminate the Ruling to all Medicare providers and adjudicators. Post it on the CMS website.
If there’s the will, there’s the way.
The Center for Medicare Advocacy, along with its co-counsel Vermont Legal Aid are pleased that the Settlement Agreement in the Medicare Improvement Standard case, Jimmo v. Sebelius, was approved January 24, 2013 at the conclusion of a scheduled fairness hearing, marking a critical step forward for thousands of beneficiaries nationwide.
The plaintiffs joined with the named defendant, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, in asking the federal judge to approve the settlement of the case. With only one written comment received, and no class members appearing at the fairness hearing to question the settlement, Chief Judge Christina Reiss granted the motion to approve the Settlement Agreement on the record, while retaining jurisdiction to enforce the agreement in the future, as requested by the parties.
“We are not surprised but are very pleased that the judge ruled the settlement is fair, reasonable and adequate,” said Gill Deford, Litigation Director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy. “This moment is a culmination of two years of hard work, in conjunction with partners and advocates, to ensure that those who need health services covered under the Medicare law are not denied based on an illegal, outdated rule of thumb.”
With the settlement now officially approved, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is tasked with revising its Medicare Benefit Policy Manual and numerous other policies, guidelines and instructions to ensure that Medicare coverage is available for skilled maintenance services in the home health, nursing home and outpatients settings. CMS must also develop and implement a nationwide education campaign for all who make Medicare determinations to ensure that beneficiaries with chronic conditions are not denied coverage for critical services because their underlying conditions will not improve.
“It is important to note that the Settlement Agreement standards for Medicare coverage of skilled maintenance services apply now – while CMS works on policy revisions and its education campaign,” said Judith Stein, Executive Director, Center for Medicare Advocacy. “We’ve been hearing from beneficiaries who are still being denied Medicare coverage based on an Improvement Standard. Coverage should be available now for people who need skilled maintenance care and meet any other qualifying Medicare criteria. This is the law of the land – agreed to by the federal government and approved by the federal judge. We encourage people to appeal should they be denied Medicare for skilled maintenance nursing or therapy because they are not improving.”
For people needing assistance with appeals, the Center for Medicare Advocacy has self-help materials available on its website, www.medicareadvocacy.org. This information can help individuals understand proper coverage rules and learn how to contest Medicare denials for outpatient, home health, or skilled nursing facility care.
“It is exciting to know that by this time next year, Medicare policies will clearly state that coverage for skilled maintenance nursing and therapy is available, and that a beneficiary’s access to coverage does not depend on the potential for improvement, but rather on the need for skilled care,” continued Stein.
To speak with a representative of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, please contact Lauren Weybrew at firstname.lastname@example.org or 914-833-7093. Learn more about the Center for Medicare Advocacy at www.medicareadvocacy.org
Few people understand the value of Medicare’s home health coverage. In fact, many people who qualify for Medicare instead pay out-of-pocket, go without needed care, look to Medicaid for payment, or even enter nursing homes unnecessarily. Learn about Medicare home health coverage from nationally known beneficiary advocates. This Wednesday, September 12th!
Medicare Home Health Coverage for People With Long-term and Chronic Conditions
Presented by: Judith Stein, Executive Director/Attorney and Margaret Murphy, Associate Director/Attorney
September 12 from 2:00 – 3:00 PM EDT
Unknown to most people with Medicare, and contrary to what is often stated by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Medicare home health benefit can provide long term coverage for those who qualify. This webinar will help advocates understand the potential of this important coverage so that people with long-term and chronic conditions can obtain the nursing, therapy and home health aide care they need to remain at home. The presenters will explain:
* Prerequisites to obtaining Medicare home health coverage;
* Real and imagined limitations to coverage;
* Advocacy tips for obtaining and maintaining coverage;
* How to appeal home health coverage denials.
Download Speaker Bios at http://www.naela.org/app_themes/public/PDF/Meeting%20PDFs/Webinar/2012sep12webinarbio.pdf
Federal Judge Refuses To Dismiss Medicare Beneficiaries’ Challenge To The Medicare “Improvement Standard”
Plaintiffs have overcome a major hurdle in a lawsuit filed by the Center for Medicare Advocacy and Vermont Legal Aid on behalf of Medicare beneficiaries with long-term and chronic conditions. In a comprehensive 35-page decision, Chief Judge Christina Reiss refused the federal government’s request to throw out a lawsuit that seeks to end use of an illegal Improvement Standard to deny Medicare coverage. The Improvement Standard is a “rule of thumb” that Medicare uses to deny or terminate coverage to beneficiaries whose conditions are not improving. Jimmo v. Sebelius, Civil No. 5:11-CV-17 (D. VT. 10/25/20011).
“The Improvement Standard is the most unfair and harmful reason for Medicare denials,” stated Judith Stein, executive director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy. “It has a particularly devastating effect on patients with chronic conditions such as Multiple Sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, ALS, Parkinson’s disease, and paralysis.”
The lawsuit, which was filed in January of this year, was brought on behalf of a nationwide class of Medicare beneficiaries by six individual beneficiaries and seven national organizations representing people with chronic conditions.
In asking the court to dismiss the case, the government raised several arguments to contend that the court lacked jurisdiction over the plaintiffs’ claims. The government also argued that the plaintiffs failed to state a claim, namely, that there was no proof that the government was even applying such a policy as the Improvement Standard. Judge Reiss rejected that contention. She did agree, however, that the court lacked jurisdiction over one beneficiary plaintiff and one organizational plaintiff, but the case will go forward with the remaining eleven plaintiffs.
“Judge Reiss understands the core issue plaintiffs in this case seek to address,” stated Michael Benvenuto, attorney for plaintiffs from Vermont Legal Aid. “They are not seeking individual claim reviews; they are challenging a broad secret policy.”
“This is a great first step for these plaintiffs and for Medicare beneficiaries in general,” remarked Gill Deford, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs. “The Improvement Standard has been used for over 30 years to deprive hundreds of thousands of Medicare beneficiaries of coverage they desperately needed. This decision starts the process of ending that illegal policy.”