New Affordable Care Act initiative to support care coordination nationwide – The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the availability of a new initiative for Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program. ACOs encourage quality improvement and care coordination through the use of health information technology. The Medicare Shared Savings Program (Shared Savings Program) was established to facilitate coordination and cooperation among providers to improve the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries and reduce unnecessary costs.
The new ACO Investment Model is designed to help better coordinate care to rural and underserved areas by providing up to $114 million in upfront investments to up to 75 ACOs across the country. This initiative will provide up front investments in infrastructure and redesigned care process to help eligible ACOs continue to provide higher quality care. Eligibility is targeted to ACOs who joined the Shared Savings Program in 2012, 2013, 2014, and to new ACOs joining the Shared Savings Program in 2016. For more information, read The ACO Investment Model. Read the full press release.
2015 Medicare Part B premiums and deductibles to remain the same as last two years – Next year’s standard Medicare Part B monthly premium and deductible will remain the same as the last two years. Medicare Part B covers physicians’ services, outpatient hospital services, certain home health services, durable medical equipment, and other items.
The stabilization of Part B premiums is another example of how health care costs are being contained to provide a more sustainable and affordable health delivery system. The Affordable Care Act is working to improve affordability and access to quality care for seniors and people with disabilities.
CMS also announced today that for the small number of beneficiaries who pay Medicare Part A monthly premiums, their monthly bill will drop $19 in 2015 to $407. Read the full announcement here.
Options Available for Consumers with Cancelled Policies – People, who have been told by insurers that their insurance policies were being canceled for failing to meet the minimum requirements of the Affordable Care Act, now have a new option. These individuals may now apply for a “hardship exemption” and will be able to enroll in catastrophic plans. Catastrophic plans provide basic coverage and are generally available on the exchanges only to people who are under 30 or qualify for a hardship exemption from the requirement to carry insurance. The recent decision provides a “temporary” exemption from the law’s individual mandate requiring most Americans to have health insurance coverage or pay a federal tax penalty. The goal was to ensure the smoothest possible transition for people seeking new coverage after cancellation of their policies. In order to purchase this catastrophic coverage, people need to complete a hardship exemption form, and indicate that their current health insurance policy is being cancelled and other available policies are unaffordable. Consumers with cancelled policies may call 1-866-837-0677 to help people sort through their options. The deadline for people to sign up for coverage that starts on Jan. 1 was December 23rd. Read the rules on exemptions from federal tax penalties. Read the CMS announcement.