CMS: FAQ’s on CMS Waivers, Flexibilities, and the end of the COVID -19 Public Health Emergency

The Department of Health and Human Services is planning for the federal Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 (PHE), declared under Section 319 of the Public Health Service Act, to expire at the end of the day on May 11, 2023. Today, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued FAQs on CMS Waivers, Flexibilities, and the End of the COVID-19 PHE. The FAQs will help you prepare for the expiration of the COVID-19 PHE and are relevant for all CMS programs; including, Medicare, Medicaid, the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and private insurance.

CMS resources for the expiration of the COVID-19 PHE:


Medicaid Unwinding – KFF Release

Eight to 24 Million Could Lose Medicaid Coverage by May 2024 Due to the End of Pandemic-era Enrollment Protections

State Policies Will Help Shape How Many People Are Disenrolled, Including Some Who Remain Eligible


new KFF analysis finds that between 8 and 24 million people across the United States could be disenrolled from Medicaid during the unwinding of the program’s continuous enrollment provision.   Read full article here.


April 17, 2023

Contact: CMS Media Relations
CMS Media Inquiries

Today, the Biden-Harris Administration, through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), announced measures that will make coverage more accessible, expand behavioral health care access, simplify choice, and make it easier for millions of Americans to select a health plan in 2024. 

“The Biden-Harris Administration has worked tirelessly to expand access to health insurance and lower health care costs for America’s families,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “Today’s announcement of the 2024 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters Final Rule is a step forward toward creating a health care system which prioritizes equity, access, and affordability. HHS remains committed to removing barriers to care to ensure quality health care is within reach for everyone who needs it.” 

“We’ve made great progress with record insured rates, but affordable health care remains a concern across the nation,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “As we continue to work toward accessible and equitable health care for all Americans, the 2024 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters Final Rule we’re finalizing today will make it easier for consumers to access, choose and maintain the health coverage that best fits their needs.”

The 2024 Notice of Benefit and Payment Parameters Final Rule (final 2024 Payment Notice) finalizes standards for issuers and Marketplaces, as well as requirements for agents, brokers, web-brokers, and Assisters that help consumers with enrollment through Marketplaces that use the federal platform. These changes further the Biden-Harris Administration’s goals of advancing health equity by addressing the health disparities that underlie our health system, such as strengthening network adequacy standards and creating a new special enrollment period (SEP) for those who lose Medicaid or Children’s Health Insurance Plan (CHIP) coverage, among others. The rule also builds on the Affordable Care Act by expanding access to quality, affordable health coverage and care, especially behavioral health care, and making it easier to select and enroll in health coverage. 

Making it easier to enroll in coverage 

While the administration previously announced a temporary SEP for individuals losing Medicaid or CHIP until July 31, 2024 in recognition of the end of the continuous coverage requirement in Medicaid, the final rule establishes a permanent policy. Beginning January 1, 2024, Federally-facilitated Marketplaces (FFMs) and State-based Marketplaces (SBMs) will have the option to implement a new SEP for people losing Medicaid or CHIP coverage, allowing consumers to select a plan for Marketplace coverage 60 days before, or 90 days after, losing Medicaid or CHIP coverage. This SEP works to reduce gaps in coverage and allows for a more seamless transition into Marketplace coverage. 

The final rule also allows Assisters to provide more convenient and efficient help to consumers.  Assisters currently conduct direct outreach, education, and schedule follow-up appointments, but are generally prohibited from providing enrollment assistance upon an initial interaction if initiated by the Assister. Removing this barrier will make it easier for consumers to get help when enrolling in coverage. Additionally, this policy change will likely improve health literacy in rural and underserved communities and reduce burden on consumers, especially for consumers with a lack of access transportation, inflexible job schedules, and those who are immunocompromised. 

Increasing access to health care services 

Expanding access to behavioral health care remains a top priority for the Biden-Harris Administration. As part of that effort, the final rule includes two new essential community provider (ECP) categories that are critical to delivering needed behavioral health care: Substance Use Disorder Treatment Centers and Mental Health Facilities. 

The final rule will also help expand access to care by extending the requirement for plans to contract with at least 35% of available ECPs in a plan’s service area to apply to two individual ECP categories: Federally Qualified Health Centers and Family Planning Providers. The overall 35% threshold requirement also remains in place. These changes, in conjunction with other expanded Network Adequacy requirements in the final rule, increase provider choice, advance health equity, and expand access to care for consumers who have low incomes, complex or chronic health care conditions, or who reside in underserved areas, as these consumers are often disproportionately affected by unanticipated costs associated with out-of-network providers and limited access to providers. 

Simplifying choice and improving the plan selection process 

The final rule includes provisions to make it easier for consumers to select a health plan that best fits their individual needs and budget by refining designs for standardized plan options. The final rule is also limiting the number of non-standardized plan options offered by issuers of qualified health plans (QHPs) through the FFMs and SBMs on the Federal Platform (SBM-FPs) to four in each area for the 2024 plan year. This will reduce plan choice overload while continuing to provide a robust number of options for consumers to help fit their health needs. 

For more information on the final rule, consult the fact sheet:

How 2024 Medicare Part D drug coverage is changing and will help save on prescription costs.

Article from

Category: Annual Medicare Plan Changes
Published: Apr, 04 2023 09:04:59

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) released the “Announcement of Calendar Year (CY) 2024 Medicare Advantage (MA) Capitation Rates and Part C and Part D Payment Policies” (Rate Announcement) on March 31, 2023 and the 2024 Rate Announcement includes the finalized defined standard Part D benefit increases for 2024 Medicare drug plan coverage.



AultCare’s PrimeTime Choices Med Supp – Extended Guarantee Issue Update!

Great News Agents!

Aultcare’s PrimeTime Choice Medicare Supplement plans has exteneded their guaranteed issue through the end of 2023!

Please see below for important updates pertaining to PrimeTime Choices:

  • Guarantee Issue will be extended through 2023.
  • Rate increases will be announced by June 1.
    • Letters will be sent to members 30 days prior.

Not contracted with Aultcare? Let us know… we can help! Connect with our contracting department to get started –

Cigna’s PDP Plans Are Commissionable in 2024!


Important PDP Commissions Update

As reported recently, Cigna Healthcare will start paying commissions on Medicare Prescription Drug Plans (PDP) starting in AEP 2024!

We are excited that your agents will soon be able to offer Cigna Healthcare’s full portfolio of products to their customers, including all of our PDP plans.

 For your awareness, we have an overview of how PDP commissions will impact different aspects of the broker experience below. Be on the lookout for more information coming soon. In the meantime, free to reach out to your Medicare Advantage Broker Strategist should you have any questions






Cigna has confirmed they will be paying commissions on their PDP plans for 2024 nationwide!

Here is what we know:

1. Cigna’s PDPs will be commissionable for 2024.
2. Agents already contracted for Cigna’s 2023 MAPD’s will not need to re-contract for the PDPs. Both will fall under the same contract.
3. Agents that are certified for Cigna’s 2023 MAPD’s will not have to complete the “Selling with Integrity” module for 2024. This takes away 1 module for 2024!
4. PDP certification will launch with the MAPD certification for 2024.

Stay tuned for more information to come.


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HHS Updates 2024 Medicare Advantage Program and Part D Payment Policies




March 31, 2023


Contact: CMS Media Relations

(202) 690-6145 | CMS Media Inquiries

HHS Updates 2024 Medicare Advantage Program and Part D Payment Policies


Updated Medicare Advantage and Part D policies ensure the overall Medicare program remains strong and stable for the 65 million beneficiaries today and future generations to come, payments to private insurance companies are accurate, and taxpayer dollars are well spent.

Today, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), released the Calendar Year (CY) 2024 Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D Rate Announcement that finalized payment policies for these programs. The final policies in the Rate Announcement improve payment accuracy and ensure taxpayer dollars are well spent. CMS will phase-in certain updates, and on average, CMS anticipates a payment increase for MA plans of 3.32% from 2023 to 2024, which is approximately a $13.8 billion increase in MA payments for next year.

The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to protecting and strengthening Medicare, and delivering quality health care for Medicare beneficiaries today and in the future. Today’s payment rule will ensure that benefits remain strong and stable for beneficiaries and that payments are accurate and appropriate. The Administration is committed to holding health insurance companies that participate in the Medicare Advantage program accountable to America’s seniors.

“This year’s update strengthens Medicare for our seniors and Americans with disabilities,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “We are committed to ensuring private companies are holding up their end of the deal to provide quality care to beneficiaries and that payments to these companies are accurate. Together with President Biden’s Budget, this update protects Medicare for beneficiaries today and beyond 2050.”

“Medicare should be providing equitable, high-quality affordable care that will be available for our children and grandchildren,” said CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure. “Paying Medicare Advantage plans more accurately for the care they provide is how we ensure that people enrolled in Medicare Advantage, especially populations with the highest health disparities and people in underserved communities, can continue to access the care they deserve.”

In addition to today’s final rule, the Biden-Harris Administration has taken action to make the Medicare program stronger and hold industry accountable. This year, it will start recovering improper payments made to insurance companies in Medicare Advantage. Recovering these improper payments and returning this money to the Medicare Trust Funds will protect the fiscal sustainability of Medicare and allow the program to better serve seniors and people with disabilities.

The Administration has also proposed policies to strengthen the MA managed care program that will hold health insurance companies to higher standards by:

  • cracking down on abusive and confusing marketing schemes;
  • addressing problematic prior authorization practices that prevent timely access to needed care;
  • making it easier to access vital behavioral health care; and
  • raising the bar on quality and driving toward more equitable care.

Taken together, these actions will make the overall Medicare program stronger.

“The commonsense policies in the Rate Announcement ensure these important programs continue to meet the health care needs of all people with Medicare while improving the quality and long-term stability of the Medicare program,” said CMS Deputy Administrator and Director of the Center for Medicare Meena Seshamani, MD, Ph.D.

The Rate Announcement finalizes updates to MA payment growth rates and changes to the MA and Part D payment methodologies. These include technical and clinical updates to the MA risk adjustment model to keep it up to date and improve payment accuracy. Two such changes are the transition to the Internal Classification of Diseases (ICD)-10 system, which is the coding classification system used throughout the U.S health care system since 2015, and updated data years. Modernizing the Medicare Advantage risk adjustment model by aligning it with the ICD-10 system will ensure the payment models are using more up-to-date data – bringing Medicare Advantage payments in line with current health care practices and making them consistent with other federal health care programs. The finalized risk adjustment model also reflects revisions focused on conditions that are subject to more coding variation. As in past years, CMS is finalizing policies to address these inconsistencies in order to ensure the model more accurately predicts medical costs.

The changes in risk adjustment payment policies finalized as part of this Rate Announcement were developed in collaboration with expert clinicians to take into account how well different conditions predict costs. The policies finalized in this Rate Announcement will help make more accurate payments. This reduces incentives to cherry-pick healthy beneficiaries and discriminate against sicker patients. In addition, CMS will continue to pay more for someone who is dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid than someone who is not when they have the same diagnoses.

In finalizing these proposed policies, CMS is making commonsense updates to ensure the MA program remains strong and viable. Consistent with prior practice, CMS will phase in both the technical revisions to the risk adjustment model and changes to the per capita cost calculations to better account for medical education costs over a period of three years.

View a fact sheet on the CY 2024 Medicare Advantage and Part D Rate Announcement.

The 2024 Rate Announcement can be viewed at and selecting “2024 Announcement.”


Free Statewide “Welcome to Medicare”

News Release – Ohio Department of Insurance

April 3, 2023

Free Statewide “Welcome to Medicare” Educational Events Available to Ohioans New to Medicare

COLUMBUS – The Ohio Senior Health Insurance Information Program (OSHIIP), the state’s official Medicare educational and counseling program, is holding free in-person and virtual “Welcome to Medicare” events across Ohio from April through June for Ohioans new to Medicare, Ohio Department of Insurance director Judith L. French announced. OSHIIP is a department program.  

“Medicare is complicated and there are different health insurance approaches along with health care and budgetary considerations for Ohioans new to Medicare to evaluate,” French said. “OSHIIP’s Medicare representatives narrow the scope while still thoroughly educating Ohioans about Medicare so they can make informed health insurance decisions best suited for their needs.”

During the events, OSHIIP representatives provide an overview of Medicare, Part A and B benefits, Part D prescription drug coverage, Medicare supplemental insurance plans, Medicare Advantage plans, eligibility, enrollment, financial assistance, and important deadlines. One-on-one follow-up counseling sessions can be scheduled.

Last year, OSHIIP through its different engagement services counseled and educated nearly 600,000 people and saved Ohioans on Medicare $46 million by helping them identify suitable coverage options and financial assistance.

To access the in-person and virtual Welcome to Medicare events schedules, visit OSHIIP representatives are also available at 800-686-1578 and to answer Medicare questions.

For Medicare information and tips, answers to frequently asked questions, and insight into how to avoid Medicare scams visit and