The House today passed these four Medicare-related bills by voice votes...

1. H.R. 6561
The "Comprehensive Care for Seniors Act of 2018" bill

This bill would make it possible for for-profit companies to offer Program of All-Inclusive Care for the Elderly plans, or PACE plans.

A PACE plan can use federal Medicare money and, in many cases, state Medicaid money to provide soup-to-nuts care for older people who need the equivalent of nursing home care but can live safely in the community.

(Photo: Scott Eells/BB)

2. H.R. 6690
The "Fighting Fraud to Protect Care for Seniors Act of 2018" bill

This bill calls for Medicare program managers to test a Medicare smart card program, to see if replacing traditional cards with smart cards could reduce Medicare program fraud, waste and abuse.

(Image: CMS)

3. H.R. 6662
The "Empowering Seniors' Enrollment Decision Act of 2018" bill

This bill is supposed to help Medicare enrollees cope with the winding down of the Medicare cost plan program.

Private insurers have been offering Medicare cost plans, or old school Medicare managed care plans, since the 1970s. The plans resemble Medicare Advantage plans in some ways but operate under different rules. In January, Medicare will eliminate the plans in counties in which consumers have access to two or more Medicare Advantage plans.

H.R. 6662 would set formal rules for the special enrollment period a Medicare cost plan enrollee will get when a cost plan goes away. The bill would also let the issuer of a disappearing cost plan "deem" the enrollees into a new Medicare Advantage plan.

(Image: Thinkstock)

4. H.R. 3635
The "Local Coverage Determination Clarification Act of 2018" bill

Traditional Medicare uses private organizations, called Medicare administrative contractors (MACs), to administer the traditional Medicare program in each region of the country. Each regional MAC has some ability to decide what medical services it will cover, and when.

H.R. 3635 would establish standard procedures the regional MACs must follow when making "local coverage determinations."

One provision would require a MAC to post its local coverage decisions online.


(Related: House May Vote on Medicaid-Medicare Long-Term Care Bill This Week)

Members of the U.S. House today passed four Medicare-related bills by voice votes.

House Republican leaders put all of the bills on the House “consent calendar,” or list of items viewed as noncontroversial and easy to pass.

The bills could do things like expand options for older people who need long-term care (LTC) services and put new types of Medicare cards in Medicare enrollees’ wallets.

Although the four bills passed in the House by a wide margin, there is no guarantee that the bills will reach the Senate, floor either on their own or as part of a package.

In some cases, proposals have broad support, but they lack enough support from the right people to come up for a vote.

In other cases, supporters of a popular proposal may have trouble finding an acceptable way to raise enough federal revenue, or cut enough federal spending, to offset the effects of a proposal on the federal budget.

For a look at the four bills that passed today, based on a list circulated by House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, see the idea cards in the slideshow above.

— Read 3 Ideas From Lawmakers for Making Medicare Better, on ThinkAdvisor.

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