This week, we’re reading updates on the new Medicare cards, the lift on therapy caps for Medicare patients, and a proposal to expand in-home support in 2019 Medicare Advantage plans.

Everything You Need to Know About the New Medicare Cards (But Beware Of Scams) | Kaiser Health News | March 15, 2018

In April, the government will start sending out new Medicare cards, launching a massive, yearlong effort to alter how 59 million people enrolled in the federal health insurance program are identified.

Historically, Medicare ID cards have been stamped with the Social Security numbers of members — currently, about 50 million seniors and 9 million people with serious disabilities. But that’s been problematic: If a wallet or purse were stolen, a thief could use that information, along with an address or birthdate on a driver’s license, to steal someone’s identity.

For years, phone scammers have preyed on older adults by requesting their Medicare numbers, giving various reasons for doing so. People who fall for these ruses have found bank accounts emptied, Social Security payments diverted or bills in their mailboxes for medical services or equipment never received.

The new cards address these concerns by removing each member’s Social Security number and replacing it with a new, randomly generated 11-digit “Medicare number” (some capital letters are included). This will be used to verify eligibility for services and for billing purposes going forward.

Read the full article on here.

Lifting Therapy Caps Is A Load Off Medicare Patients’ Shoulders | Kaiser Health News | March 14, 2018

The federal budget agreement Congress approved last month removes annual caps on how much Medicare pays for physical, occupational or speech therapy and streamlines the medical review process. It applies to people in traditional Medicare as well as those with private Medicare Advantage policies.

As of Jan. 1, Medicare beneficiaries are eligible for therapy indefinitely as long as their doctor — or in some states, physician assistant, clinical nurse specialist or nurse practitioner — confirms their need for therapy and they continue to meet other requirements. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) last month notified health care providers about the change.

See the full summary on here.

Providers Urge CMS to Enact Medicare Advantage Home Care Proposal | Home Health Care News | March 6, 2018

Private duty and home health care providers have weighed in on a recent proposal to include non-skilled in-home supports in Medicare Advantage plans in 2019, with some providers calling it a “precursor” to expanding home care services to all Medicare patients.

The proposal, which was announced by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) on Feb. 1, would potentially add private duty home care as a supplemental benefit to these plans. Industry stakeholders had a chance to weigh in on the proposal during on open comment period that closed March 5.

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