Medicare Knowledge: Keeping Up With The Changes

MP900423013Medicare has published new rules spelling out the changes, and an education campaign aimed at healthcare providers began in January. But many healthcare providers haven't grasped it, either.

As you may know, Medicare has recently undergone a big change affecting long-term care and the availability of skilled nursing or therapy. Namely, thousands are now eligible for Medicare benefits, but you might just have to point that out to care providers.

The slow transition to full adoption of the rules and new standards of care, as well as the continuing plight of those left in a lurch, is discussed in a recent Reuters article titled “New Medicare coverage of long-term care off to a rocky start.” As pointed out there, you or a loved one may be eligible for benefits, but may need to fight to receive the benefits.

Formerly, Medicare would only pay for skilled nursing or physical therapy sessions if there were signs of improvement. The trouble is that skilled nursing and therapy are not always about improvement but about maintenance, or even slowing a natural decline to keep a patient in a positive state.

The rules were challenged and the case of Jimmo v. Sebelius brought about relaxed rules, allowing such services for far broader classes of patients. Medicare communicates these kinds of changes directly to healthcare providers and not to beneficiaries. However, it seems many beneficiaries are having to figure it out for themselves and push institutions to adopt the changes. As a Medicare beneficiary, it may be important to know what the new rules mean and how to advocate for your care or the care of a loved one.

The original article offers some important resources like the Center for Medicare Advocacy, as well as the Medicare Rights Center. Each of these resources has some helpful guides and much more information on this and other relevant issues.

For additional information on Medicare and elder law topics in Houston, please visit my website.

Reference: Reuters (April 29, 2014) “New Medicare coverage of long-term care off to a rocky start


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