On June 16, 2015, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its long-term budget outlook. Under the assumption that currently relevant laws remain the same, this annual report provides extended baseline projections of future federal spending and revenues that focus on the upcoming 25-year period ending in 2040. This includes projections for major health care programs including Medicare, Medicaid, and the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). Importantly, the report is not a prediction of spending in the future, but rather a demonstration of the effects current policies will have on the economy over time if left unchanged.
When a patient is admitted to a hospital, they receive care until deemed healthy enough for discharge, either to another care facility or their home. Unless readmission is a predetermined part of a patient’s care plan, returning to the hospital is generally viewed as a result of poorly delivered care or inadequacies in transition or follow-up. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) measure hospital readmissions within a 30-day window, known as the 30-day readmission rate, which includes hospital readmissions to any hospital, not just the hospital at which a patient was originally hospitalized. CMS’ measurement captures all readmissions in traditional Medicare for particular diagnoses, no matter the cause of readmission, excluding those who upon discharge were transferred to another hospital or those who left the hospital against medical advice.
On July 22, 2015, the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds released their annual report on the current and projected financial and actuarial status of the various trust funds supporting the two programs. These annual reports serve as important tools for the management of Social Security and Medicare. With regard to Medicare, the trustees report on the financial operations of two distinct trust funds: the Hospital Insurance (HI) Trust Fund and the Supplementary Medical Insurance (SMI) Trust Fund. (Click here to learn more about the HI and SMI Trust Funds and how Medicare is financed.)
What bills are being discussed?
In May 2015, a bipartisan group of members of the House Ways and Means and Energy and Commerce Committees introduced four bills designed to support and strengthen the Medicare Advantage (MA) program.
H.R.2505: “Medicare Advantage Transparency Act of 2015”
H.R.2507: “Increasing Regulatory Fairness Act of 2015”
H.R.2570: “Value Based Insurance Design for Better Care Act of 2015”
H.R.2582: “Seniors’ Health Care Plan Protection Act of 2015”