4/6 CCCC on Disparity and Trust

The Coalition for Compassionate Care of California will present an April 6, 2021 webinar on Trust as a Key to Reducing Health Disparities, covering the historical roots of distrust in healthcare, particularly among racial and ethnic groups, unconscious bias, and tools that can improve trust. One CEU will be available for nurses and social workers. Find details and register at https://mailchi.mp/coalitionccc.org/no-one-should-die-alone-on-the-street-746653.

3/2 CCCC Webinar on Why Words Matter

The Coalition for Compassionate Care of California will present a 2 March 2021 webinar on Moral Injury & Resilience During COVID: Why Words Matter. The webinar will explain how pandemic Moral Distress differs from Burn-Out and present strategies for mitigating Moral Distress. One CEU will be available for nurses and social workers. Find more information and register at https://www.eventbrite.com/e/webinar-moral-injury-resilience-during-covid-why-words-matter-tickets-141383023429?mc_eid=67e1ad4c31&mc_cid=01d0038bbc.

HDC and CMS re Health Insurance

MEI’s Home Dialysis Central has published a blog post on Medicare Advantage Plan Pros & Cons – and a Fix for Buyers’ Remorse. The post includes a comparison of costs between Medicare Advantage (“MA”) and “Original Medicare,” types of MA plans, advantages and disadvantages of MA plans, and a discussion of how Medigap interacts with each. Find the post at https://homedialysis.org/news-and-research/blog/415-medicare-advantage-plan-pros-&-cons-and-a-fix-for-buyer-remorse.

CMS has also recently added an email bulletin on What Partners Need to Know Now about Health Insurance Coverage during the Pandemic. For basic information the bulletin recommends the CMS COVID-19 Partner Resources page at https://www.cms.gov/outreach-education/partner-resources/coronavirus-covid-19-partner-resources and the HHS COVID Education Campaign page at https://www.hhs.gov/coronavirus/education-campaign/index.html. It also recommends CDC’s new Community-Based Organizations COVID-19 Vaccine Toolkit at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/vaccines/toolkits/community-organization.html, the February 15 to May 15, 2021 Special Enrollment Period for individuals and families to enroll in the health insurance coverage they need (see https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/2021-special-enrollment-period-response-covid-19-emergency), and the CMS Roadmaps to Better Care in up to nine different languages at https://www.cms.gov/About-CMS/Agency-Information/OMH/equity-initiatives/c2c/consumerresources/roadmap-to-better-care.

12/16 SSA Work Incentive Webinar

The Social Security Adminstration will present a December 16, 2020 WISE (Work Incentive Seminar Event) webinar on Ticket to Work and Mental Health. The webinar will include SSA’s Ticket to Work Program, Ticket Program service providers, managing a job search, battling the winter blues, and how working will impact your SSDI income. WISE webinars are usually held every fourth Wednesday; stay informed about them at https://choosework.ssa.gov/wise. Find out more about the SSA Ticket to Work program and other SSA job search aids at https://choosework.ssa.gov/blog/2020-12-02-start-job-search-at-december-career-fair. Find details and register for the December 16 event at https://choosework.ssa.gov/wise/eventdetails.

RSN on Medicare Advantage

The Renal Support Network has published an excellent blog post titled Original Medicare vs. Medicare Advantage Plans: How Do I Decide? The post compares “plain vanilla” Medicare to Medicare Advantage (“MA” or sometimes, informally, “Medicare Part C”). Ongoing kidney patients will be eligible for MA plans in 2021 for the first time, and Medicare beneficiaries can switch plans until December 7, 2020. There are pros and cons to both, and each MA plan is unique, so kidney patients should huddle with their insurance advisors and their social worker to make sure that they enroll in the plan which best suits their individual situation. While MA plans can provide additional benefits, they are tied to specific provider groups (or “networks” – not to be confused with the ESRD Networks), and since they may provide very different advantages and disadvantages in different places, they must be evaluated individually.

The RSN blog post provides an excellent overview of the pros and cons of each type of plan, but can’t consider each plan in each location. That evaluation must be tailored to each specific patient and each specific place. The RSN post includes a series of questions that each patient should be asking themselves and their advisors. Find the post at https://www.rsnhope.org/health-library/original-medicare-vs-medicare-advantage-plans-how-do-i-decide/.

HDC: Insurance 101 for Social Workers

MEI’s Home Dialysis Central blog has published a post on Insurance 101 for Dialysis Social Workers.  The objective is to help assure that people with Chronic Kidney Failure avoid inaccurate advice that can be very costly.  The complexity is remarkable – even insurance experts should review the article for anything they may have overlooked.  Find the post at https://homedialysis.org/news-and-research/blog/367-insurance-101-for-dialysis-social-workers.  It may be particularly useful as we approach the 2020 Medicare Open Enrollment Period.

Just a few examples:

  • You must have paid Social Security taxes for a specific length of time to be eligible for Medicare to cover treatment for chronic kidney failure.
  • Medicare coverage starts in month 4 for in-center dialysis, but starts in month 1 for home dialysis.
  • Medicare part A is free, but it’s Part B that pays for dialysis, and it’s not free.
  • If you don’t sign up for Medicare Part B or D when you’re first eligible for part A, you’ll pay a lot more for them.
  • A few of the terms and acronyms that complicate matters: work credits, Medicare Advantage, Medigap, Medicaid, Medi-Cal, primary payer, Medicare assignment, MA, QMD, SLMB, COBRA, QHP, ACA.

10/8 CMS Open Enrollment Webinar

CMS will present an October 8, 2020 webinar for anyone who advises Medicare enrollees on Getting Ready for the Medicare Open Enrollment Period. The three-hour webinar begins at 10am PDT, but you will need a CMS National Training Program account to get in, so start earlier. If you don’t already have an account, getting one is painless, but CMS has to confirm a new account before you can proceed, and they warn that confirmation can take ten minutes or more.

Anyone advising beneficiaries on Medicare Open Enrollment would also be likely to improve their advice by reviewing Beth Witten’s HDC: Insurance 101 for Social Workers, at https://nwrnbulletins.wordpress.com/2020/07/02/hdc-insurance-101-for-social-workers/ .

The Getting Ready webinar shares Medicare Program updates and resources to help those who assist Medicare beneficiaries to make informed decisions about their 2021 health care coverage. Create a new account if necessary at https://cmsnationaltrainingprogram.cms.gov/ , and find the webinar at https://cmsnationaltrainingprogram.cms.gov/?q=global-search&combine=Open+Enrollment . The 2020 Medicare Open Enrollment Period, during which people with Medicare can make changes to their health plans and prescription drug coverage to meet their health care needs for the following year, spans October 15 to December 7.

The CMS National Training Program includes a catalog of recorded courses and online self-paced trainings for staff members who work with Medicare, starting with Introductions that have no prerequisites.  Many are repeated in Spanish.  Find the course catalog at https://cmsnationaltrainingprogram.cms.gov/?q=ntp-courses .

The HHS Administration for Community Living ( https://acl.gov/ ) has prepared a toolkit, Preparing for a Remote Medicare Open Enrollment: Managing through COVID-19 Toolkit, containing successful practices, templates, and checklists to help you and your clients stay safe from COVID-19 during this year’s Open Enrollment. Find the Toolkit at https://www.shiptacenter.org/covid-19/toolkit

NCC COVID-19 Mental Health Handbook

The ESRD National Coordinating Center has published a new 17-page booklet called The COVID-19 Mental Health Toolkit: Helping Renal Professionals Support the Well-Being of the ESRD Community.  It was developed by Network professionals and patient volunteers to serve as a guide for renal healthcare staff to help patients manage their well-being, and includes sections on taking action, increasing awareness, building community capacity, incorporating telemedicine, and getting ahead of the issues.  Find a copy at https://esrdncc.org/contentassets/abe8671eadac49c691c0f40eef52ef18/covid19mhtoolkit07312020508.pdf.

CMS Training on Medicare for People with ESRD

The CMS National Training Program includes a wide variety of webinars, slide decks, recorded videos, and CE offerings on a spectrum of Medicare-related topics.  Browse their list of topics at https://cmsnationaltrainingprogram.cms.gov/browse-topics?q=browse-topics&name=E.  One of their slide decks is called Medicare for People with ESRD, with sections on eligibility, enrollment, coverage, options, and  additional resources.  Find Medicare for People with ESRD at https://cmsnationaltrainingprogram.cms.gov/?combine=ESRD%20Networks&q=global-search.

HDC: Insurance 101 for Social Workers

MEI’s Home Dialysis Central blog has published a post on Insurance 101 for Dialysis Social Workers.  The objective is to help assure that people with Chronic Kidney Failure avoid inaccurate advice that can be very costly.  The complexity is remarkable – even insurance experts should review the article for anything they may have overlooked.  Find the post at https://homedialysis.org/news-and-research/blog/367-insurance-101-for-dialysis-social-workers.

Just a few examples:

  • You must have paid Social Security taxes for a specific length of time to be eligible for Medicare to cover treatment for chronic kidney failure.
  • Medicare coverage starts in month 4 for in-center dialysis, but starts in month 1 for home dialysis.
  • Medicare part A is free, but it’s Part B that pays for dialysis, and it’s not free.
  • If you don’t sign up for Medicare Part B or D when you’re first eligible for part A, you’ll pay a lot more for them.
  • A few of the terms and acronyms that complicate matters: work credits, Medicare Advantage, Medigap, Medicaid, Medi-Cal, primary payer, Medicare assignment, MA, QMD, SLMB, COBRA, QHP, ACA.