Original Medicare recently added these therapists and counselors as providers whose services Medicare would cover. According to CMS, about 400,000 of these providers will now be eligible to enroll in Medicare and can begin billing the program for their services on Jan. 1, 2024. The proposed regulation would add a new coverage category for MA plans called Outpatient Behavioral Health, and those providers would be included in that category.
“This rule will provide an incentive to MA plans to expand their networks to include these types of therapists, which they don’t include now because Medicare hasn’t paid for them,” Rose says.
Extra services status report. Medicare Advantage plans would, under the proposal, be required to send each one of its enrollees a letter six months into the year informing which supplemental benefits they are entitled to but haven’t yet accessed.
CMS says that while more than 99 percent of MA plans offered at least one supplement benefit to Medicare enrollees, and most often provided vision, hearing, fitness (usually a gym membership) and dental services, a low number of enrollees actually take advantage of these benefits.
“To ensure the large federal investment of taxpayer dollars in these benefits is actually making its way to beneficiaries and are not primarily used as a marketing ploy, the proposed rule requires Medicare Advantage plans to engage in minimum outreach efforts so that enrollees are aware of the supplemental benefits available to them,” CMS says in a statement. The letters would also be required to clearly explain the scope of each supplemental benefit, any out-of-pocket costs enrollees would have to pay to take advantage of these benefits, and whether there are network providers associated with each benefit. The plans also would have to provide a customer service number if beneficiaries have questions.
Rose called this “a commonsense proposal that would remind you of what your extra benefits are and how you can take advantage of them.”
Members of the public have until Jan. 5, 2024, to comment on the proposal.