Article by Marty Stempniak, McKnights Long-Term Care News

“The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services announced Monday that it has finalized updates to what private Medicare plans cover, including everything from air quality devices to food.

Federal officials said their hope is to better address social determinants of health for older adults while also spurring greater competition among increasingly popular private policies. Starting in 2019, MA plans will offer supplemental benefits not currently covered by Medicare Parts A and B, if those benefits help to compensate for physical impairments, diminish the impact of injuries, or reduce avoidable trips to the emergency room, according to an announcement.

Such privately administered plans are of growing interest to the field, accounting for 13% of SNFs’ revenues, according to the National Investment Center for Seniors Housing & Care. However, experts said these changes will not affect payment for nursing facilities and other Medicare providers.

“With Medicare Advantage enrollment at an all-time high, plans need greater flexibility in offering benefits that focus on preventing disease and keeping people healthy,” CMS Administrator Seema Verma said.”

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