11/10+ RNS Hope Week Online

The Renal Support Network has been offering its free Annual Patient Education Meeting for kidney patients and their families in the Los Angeles area for 27 years. With COVID-19 complicating things this year, RSN did what only Lori Hartwell could have imagined doing – they went global and online, and made it five times as big! So this year, RSN Hope Week will span November 10-14, 2020 with a different theme each day: CKD on day 1, Dialysis on day 2, Transplant on day 3, All Stages of Care on day 4, and Parenting Children with CKD on day 5.

Find RSN’s press release introducing the week at https://www.rsnhope.org/press-releases/renal-support-networks-27th-annual-patient-education-meeting-goes-virtual/. Find a short version of the agenda below. It’s page 1 of their flyer, which includes a full page describing each day – find the full 6-page flyer HERE. Find brief vitae and snapshots of the full faculty at https://www.rsnhope.org/hope-week-faculty/. And register at https://www.rsnhope.org/hope-week-rsns-national-online-patient-meeting/ – there’s also a short version of the agenda on that page.

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/.

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