This has been a year of extreme highs and devastating lows. On balance, the year has been a positive one, with significant advancements in health coverage. But the disappointments of 2022 are still acute.
At the federal level, there were two significant steps forward for Medicare. First, Congress passed the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which will add an out-of-pocket cap to Part D prescription drug coverage, increase coverage for people with limited incomes, and allow Medicare drug negotiation for the first time. Second, the Biden-Harris administration broadened its interpretation of medically necessary dental care, ending a decades-long policy that unnecessarily limited access to life- and health-saving treatment for people with Medicare.
The administration also began covering at-home COVID-19 tests for people with Medicare, cleared the way for over-the-counter hearing aids, proposed rules to streamline Medicaid and Medicare Savings Program (MSP) enrollment and retention, and finalized rules to protect immigrants and help people enroll in Medicare.
Legislatively, the No Surprises Act went into effect at the start of the year to protect people with group and individual health insurance policies from receiving surprise bills. And Medicare Rights celebrated the introduction of the bipartisan BENES 2.0 Act, which would notify people who are nearing Medicare eligibility of what they need to do.
Medicare beneficiaries also won the right to appeal “Observation Status” reclassifications due to work by the Center for Medicare Advocacy, Justice in Aging, and pro bono firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati.
And Medicare Rights’ home state of New York passed a landmark budget to expand eligibility for Medicaid and the MSP.
But it was not all good news. Congress failed to strengthen Home- and Community-Based Services (HCBS) in Medicaid or expand Medicare’s benefits to cover dental, hearing, and vision care, despite the need.
And the news about Medicare Advantage continues to be troubling. Watchdog reports emphasize overpayments and a lack of quality data, and a need for oversight, as well as inappropriate denials of medically necessary care that we see reflected in our helpline calls.
Clearly, there is much to be done in the coming years to protect and strengthen Medicare, Medicaid, and other forms of health coverage. We look forward to working with Congress, the administration, and other advocates in the new year.
Read Looking Ahead: Medicare in 2023 and Beyond to find out what’s coming up in Medicare.