CMS News and Updates
Open Enrollment Extended for Hurricane Sandy Victims
CMS understands that many Medicare beneficiaries have been affected by this disaster and wants to ensure that all are able to compare their options and make enrollment choices for 2013. To the extent possible, CMS encourages all beneficiaries to make their enrollment choices by December 7 to ensure that their coverage is in place for January 1, 2013.
However, individuals affected by Hurricane Sandy who are unable to make a plan selection by December 7 may still enroll in health and prescription drug coverage for 2013 by calling 1-800-MEDICARE (1-800-633-4227) toll-free, 24 hours a day. This includes those who live in the affected areas as well as those who rely on help making healthcare decisions from friends or family members who live in those affected areas. TTY users should call (877) 486-2048.
Representatives at 1-800-MEDICARE have information available to help beneficiaries review and make choices on plan options and complete enrollment even after December 7. CMS will review requests case by case to determine appropriate action. In most cases, beneficiaries will be enrolled in their plans by the first of the month after the enrollment request is made.
For questions or additional information, please contact Jim Canavan at (410) 786-5223.
Prescription and Benefits Access
In light of the events of Hurricane Sandy, you may have concerns about clients’ access to prescriptions and benefits. According to CMS guidelines, Medicare Part D plans must guarantee immediate refills of medications for any members located in disaster areas. Likewise, the Food and Nutrition Service is able to offer quick, short-term food assistance benefits to families in need through the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.
The resource amounts for the Part D Low-Income Subsidy (LIS)/Extra Help program have been increased for 2013. Starting January 1, 2013, the new amounts are $8,580 (if single) and $13,620 (if married) for full LIS, and $13,300 (if single) and $26,580 (if married) for partial LIS. Additional information is available online, including a memo from CMS and an National Council on Aging LIS eligibility chart.
A coding error caused several people with LIS to be incorrectly reassigned to the wrong plan for 2013. CMS has corrected the error. Pink-colored notices were sent out in mid-November to those affected, informing them of the mistake and providing information about the correct plan they will be assigned to for 2013. Approximately 87,000 pink-colored notices were mailed. Your LIS clients who were notified may need help understanding how this notice supersedes the blue-colored notice they received in October. CMS has provided guidance via this memo.
Two New Open Enrollment Resources
CMS recently shared two additional resources that may help you this open enrollment period. One is a state fact sheet, which includes the number of drug plans and the percentage of people in your state who get the Part D LIS/Extra Help. The other is a list of the national drug plans—something that may be of interest to your “snowbird” clients.