4/15+ April Staff Education

A partial list of April 2021 CEU and other staff education opportunities follows:

Note that Continuing Education Credit may be available even where not indicated above.

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.

2/11 CMS NTP Medicare Webinar

CMS will present a 10am PST February 11, 2021 monthly National Training Program webinar on Medicare Update and Education. The program will be recorded. The live webinar requires registration, which you won’t need to access the recording once it’s published. Find all of the recorded NTP webinars, with a link for February 11 registration, at https://cmsnationaltrainingprogram.cms.gov/?q=ntp-courses&combine%5B1%5D=1&combine%5B2%5D=2.

2021 Special COVID-19 Open Enrollment Period

CMS has announced a Special COVID-19 Open Enrollment Period for people having difficulty finding health insurance, spanning February 15-May 15, 2021. For details see https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/fact-sheets/2021-special-enrollment-period-response-covid-19-emergency. Rules and procedures can be very complicated. Your dialysis facility Social Worker may be able to provide help or direct you to other assistance. You can also connect to free detailed, unbiased advice on navigating the health insurance labyrinth, tailored to your specific situation, from a trained expert in health insurance options, rules, and procedures, at https://www.shiptacenter.org/.

Rules and procedures also vary by state; a quick overview for the six states in ESRD Networks 16 and 18 follows:

Alaska: For details see https://www.healthinsurance.org/alaska-state-health-insurance-exchange/. No apparent Special COVID-19 Open Enrollment Period, but a “qualifying event” (https://www.healthinsurance.org/obamacare/qualifying-events-that-can-get-you-coverage/) may create one for you.

California: For details see https://www.healthinsurance.org/california-state-health-insurance-exchange/. State-specific Special COVID-19 Open Enrollment Period February 1-May 15, 2021.

Idaho: For general details, see https://www.healthinsurance.org/idaho-state-health-insurance-exchange/. No Special COVID-19 Open Enrollment Period, but some insurance plans are open all year (https://www.healthinsurance.org/idaho-short-term-health-insurance/#renew), and if you have a “qualifying event” (https://www.healthinsurance.org/obamacare/qualifying-events-that-can-get-you-coverage/), you can enroll anytime.

Montana: For details see https://www.healthinsurance.org/montana-state-health-insurance-exchange/. No apparent Special COVID-19 Open Enrollment Period, but a “qualifying event” (https://www.healthinsurance.org/obamacare/qualifying-events-that-can-get-you-coverage/) will create one just for you.

Oregon: For details see https://www.healthinsurance.org/oregon-state-health-insurance-exchange/. No apparent Special COVID-19 Open Enrollment Period, but a “qualifying event” (https://www.healthinsurance.org/obamacare/qualifying-events-that-can-get-you-coverage/), including loss of employer-sponsored health insurance, can create one just for you.

Washington: For details see https://www.healthinsurance.org/washington-state-health-insurance-exchange/. Special COVID-19 Open Enrollment Period February 15-May 15, 2021.

1/19+ CMS NTP Medicare Webinars

The CMS National Training Program will present two two-hour Understanding Medicare webinars, covering Medicare Program basics, at 10am PST on January 19 and 20, 2021. These webinars will be recorded and posted at http://CMSnationaltrainingprogram.cms.gov/?q=ntp-courses. CEU credits are not available.

The January 19 webinar explains Medicare enrollment and eligibility, SSA and CMS roles and responsibilities, cost and coverage under Part A (Hospital Insurance) and Part B (Medical Insurance), why enrolling on time is important, and an overview of Medicare Supplement Insurance (Medigap) policies. Register at http://CMSnationaltrainingprogram.cms.gov/moodle/course/view.php?id=118.

The January 20 webinar explains Part D (Drug Coverage), Medicare Advantage, coordination of benefits, how to detect and report suspected Medicare fraud, waste, and abuse, and resources to help answer policy and coverage questions. Register at http://CMSnationaltrainingprogram.cms.gov/moodle/course/view.php?id=119.

1/14 CMS NTP Medicare Update

CMS will present a January 14, 2021 National Training Program (NTP) webinar on Medicare Update and Education, wherein they will “share Medicare updates, tips for training preparation, and demonstrate how to use the NTP website to maximize your Medicare training experience.” NTP “provides support for partners and stakeholders, not-for-profit professionals and volunteers who work with seniors and people with disabilities, and others who help people make informed health care decisions.” Find out more about NTP at https://cmsnationaltrainingprogram.cms.gov/. Register for the January webinar at https://cmsnationaltrainingprogram.cms.gov/moodle/login/index.php.

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/.