Jimmo vs. Sebelius On Skilled Nursing

Skilled Nursing Care is amazingly complex. Because the Medicare coverage of Skilled Nursing Facility stays is so confusing, patients sued.  The case went all the way to the Federal Courts. Jimmo vs. Sebelius, a class-action lawsuit, challenged the Center For Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) interpretation of the “improvement stand” that many used to interpret Medicare coverage of Skilled Nursing Facility booklet.

Medicare Coverage of Skilled Nursing Facility Stays: Improvement Standard

Medicare Coverage of Skilled Nursing Facilities This one hit home for me because of how it affected my mother and our family. My mother was in the last stages of ovarian cancer. It became clear that no treatment was going to work. She was on palliative care. During one of her episodes, she was in extreme pain. The hospital admitted my mother because intravenously administered pain killers were the only way to get her pain under control. After that, she was supposed to come home. But her condition was such that we were not going to be able to care for her adequately. We talked about a nursing home—skilled nursing—but one of the criteria at the time was the patient must be able to improve. Because she was terminal, improvement was definitely not in the cards. We were initially told that Medicare would not pay for her stay in a skilled nursing facility. However, that was not accurate. The people we were talking with were operating off old, outdated information.

Slow Deterioration of a Condition

On January 24, 2013, the class action lawsuit Jimmo vs Sebelius settled in favor of the patient, and the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) clarified its policy.  Medicare coverage of Skilled Nursing Facility stays no longer required “improvement.”  Instead, care could be prescribed to maintain the status of an individual’s condition, or slow the deterioration of a condition, as well as to improve the person’s condition.

Jimmo Website Explains New Medicare Coverage

As ordered by the federal judge in Jimmo v. Sebelius, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) published a new webpage containing important Jimmo vs. Sebelius information about the Jimmo Settlement on its CMS.gov website. The Jimmo webpage is the final step in a court-ordered Corrective Action Plan.  The action reinforces the fact that Medicare does cover skilled nursing and skilled therapy services needed to maintain a patient’s function or to prevent or slow decline. Improvement or progress is not necessary as long as skilled care is required. The Jimmo standards apply to home health care, nursing home care, outpatient therapies, and, to a certain extent, for care in Inpatient Rehabilitation Facilities.

In my mother’s case, the skilled nursing facility admitted my mother, even though she was terminal, to help slow the deterioration of her health. As it turned out, she passed away within two weeks of her admittance, and the personnel at her skilled nursing facility were outstanding! They made her last days as bearable as the situation would allow.

Medicare Coverage of Skilled Nursing Facilities Changed

Skilled Nursing CareMedicare coverage of Skilled Nursing Facility stays practices have changed.  Researchers assessed the impact of the Jimmo settlement by looking at changes to the number of physical therapy and/or occupational therapy visits per year, per patient, focusing specifically on the number of individuals who had 12 or more therapy visits during a 12-month timespan.

Healthcare is very expensive. There are many conflicting groups and interests. The rules, policies, and mechanisms are complex. Some of the people you deal with can be frustrating. The complexity of the system is driven home to me daily as I talk with clients and deal with issues that arise. You need to be aware of the rules and regulations around Medicare coverage and nursing home care. Or have someone who knows them and can help.

10050MPeople constantly ask me, ‘What should I do about Medicare?’  They are overwhelmed with all the brochures from insurance companies.  They look through the 162 pages of the Official Medicare Handbook and are further confused.  Some go to the Medicare.gov website, and are confounded in attempts to navigate through the endless ocean of information.  They simply ask in bewilderment, “What does everyone else do?’  A huge number of people choose a Medicare supplement, or Medigap plan, as the solution, but more of an answer is needed than just ‘everyone is doing it.’  Some thoughtful consideration is required.

Part A Deductible

Medicare is a generous health plan.  It covers a majority of the hospital and doctor costs, but there is some important exposure to be aware of.  Medicare Part A covers the hospital, but only after you pay the deductible of $1,288.  That deductible is not an annual deductible.  It is per event within a 60 day period.  While you would have to be very unlucky, very sick, or both, you could pay that deductible an endless number of times.  That is your exposure.

Part B Co-Insurance

Medicare Part B covers 80% of the doctor and outpatient procedures.  While that is quite generous, 20% of a big number is still a big number.  Heart attacks, strokes, cancer treatment can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars.  Twenty percent of a $200,000 bill is $40,000.  Most people would find that beyond the family budget.

MOOP

And with Part A & B, there is NO maximum-out-of-pocket (MOOP).  In other words, you continue to pay as the bills roll in.  You do not stop paying on deductibles and co-insurance if all you have is Original Medicare without anything else.

So comes the questions from clients: ‘What should I do about Medicare?’  Medicare supplements or Medigap plans fill in those gaps in Medicare.  They cover the hospital deductibles and 20% co-insurance for doctor and outpatient use.  Depending on how much you wish to cover, the Medigap plan can cover everything 100%, most of everything, or a potion.  You choose.  There are ten plans available.

12,200,000 Satisfied Medigap Clients

The fact that 22% of people on Medicare choose a supplement and stay on a supplement for 20-30 years tells you the level of satisfaction.  There are currently 55,200,000 Medicare beneficiaries.  Of that number 12,200,000 chose a supplement.  That number grows each year: 9.7 million in 2010 to 12.2 million in 2015.  The key number is that 9 out of 10 Medigap beneficiaries say that they are satisfied with their coverage and keep their coverage.  Med Sup Conference Stats

While Medicare is a wonderful health insurance program for seniors, it doesn’t cover everything.  You still have exposure to significant financial loss if you only have Medicare alone.

innerOne of the things that holds people back from purchasing a Medicare supplement is that they don’t know.  That is, they don’t investigate what Medigap plans are, what the costs are, how much or little they cover.  It is simple as making a phone call 402-614-3389.  A quote will not cost you anything, but you will have some real, solid information for your decision making process.  Take a couple minutes, answer a few questions, and you will be surprised how easily you can find out what you should do about your Medicare @ OmahaInsuranceSolutions.com.

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