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Medicare’s Income-Related Premiums: A Data Note

This data note presents new information to help set a context for understanding the implications of recent changes to Medicare’s income-related premiums incorporated in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA), a new law to repeal and replace Medicare’s Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula for physician payments. It describes current requirements with respect to the income-related premiums under Medicare Part B and Part D, including the number and share of Medicare beneficiaries who are estimated to pay income-related premiums and revenues raised from the income-related premium, based on data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Office of the Actuary (OACT). It also explains the recently enacted changes in MACRA that will affect some higher-income people on Medicare who are already paying income-related premiums, beginning in 2018.

Long-Term Care in the United States: A Timeline

Long-term care (LTC) in the United States has evolved over the course of the last century to better serve the needs of seniors and person with disabilities. This long-term care timeline outlines the major milestones in LTC from the nursing home era, which created an institutional bias in LTC, to the era of home and community based services (HCBS) and integration, and into the era of health reform and beyond.

Medicare Part D at Ten Years: The 2015 Marketplace and Key Trends, 2006-2015

Since 2006, Medicare beneficiaries have had access through Medicare Part D to prescription drug coverage offered by private plans, either stand-alone prescription drug plans (PDPs) or Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans (MA-PD plans). Now in its tenth year, Part D has evolved due to changes in the private plan marketplace and the laws and regulations that govern the program. This report presents findings from an analysis of the Medicare Part D marketplace in 2015 and changes in features of the drug benefit offered by Part D plans since 2006.

Medicare Part D: A First Look at Plan Offerings in 2016

During the Medicare open enrollment period, beneficiaries have the opportunity to enroll in a plan that provides Part D prescription drug coverage, either a stand-alone prescription drug plan (PDP) to supplement traditional Medicare, or a Medicare Advantage drug plan. This issue brief provides an overview of the 2016 PDP marketplace, focusing on key changes from 2015, based on analysis of data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. It presents analysis of PDP availability, premiums, benefit design, and low-income subsidy plans.

The Latest on Geographic Variation in Medicare Spending: A Demographic Divide Persists But Variation Has Narrowed

This report uses the most current data available to analyze Medicare per beneficiary spending, by county, in 2013; the growth in Medicare per beneficiary spending between 2007 and 2013, by county; and the extent to which geographic variation in Medicare per beneficiary spending has increased or decreased over time. The analysis finds that beneficiaries living in counties with relatively high Medicare per beneficiary spending tend to be sicker and poorer than beneficiaries living in lower-spending counties and that the gap between high and low-spending counties narrows but does not close after adjustments are made for differences in prices and beneficiaries’ health status. The analysis also shows that the amount of variation between the highest- and lowest-spending counties appears to have narrowed in recent years, raising questions as to whether these changes are due to specific shifts in payment policy. An interactive U.S. map showing county-level Medicare spending is also available.

10 FAQs: Medicare’s Role in End-of-Life Care

About eight of 10 of the 2.6 million people who died in the US in 2014 were people on Medicare, making Medicare the largest insurer of health care provided during the last year of life. These Frequently Asked Questions explain Medicare’s role in or coverage of end-of-life care, advance care planning, advance directives, and hospice care. They also provide information on Medicare spending on end-of-life care, changes to the physician fee schedule, and how related issues arose prior to the passage of the Affordable Care Act.

Reading the Stars: Nursing Home Quality Star Ratings, Nationally and by State

This issue brief presents national and state-level analysis of nursing homes based on the Five-Star Quality Rating System, recently updated by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to help consumers compare nursing homes when selecting one for themselves or their family members. The issue brief finds that more than one-third (36%) of the nation’s 15,500 nursing homes certified by Medicare or Medicaid received relatively low ratings of 1 or 2 stars (out of a possible 5 stars). In 11 states, at least 40 percent of nursing homes in the state have 1- or 2-star ratings. In 23 states, however, at least half of the nursing homes have 4- or 5- star ratings. This issue brief discusses relevant policy considerations regarding nursing home quality—a serious issue in light of the vulnerability of the nursing home population and recent reports of problems arising from inadequate staffing, fire safety hazards, and substandard care.

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Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, the Kaiser Family Foundation is a nonprofit organization based in Menlo Park, California.