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Medicare Appeals Could Become More Difficult

  • April 30th, 2005

A new policy, scheduled to take effect in July, will make it more difficult for Medicare recipients to file appeals in person and could make it less likely that they will get a favorable decision. The 2003 Medicare law shifted responsibility for Medicare appeals from the Social Security Administration to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). Under the new policy, HHS plans to hold appeal hearings in only four locations and conduct most appeals via videoconferencing. Previously hearings were held in more than 140 locations.

According to a report in the New York Times, Medicare advocates are worried that the inability of judges to see witnesses in person will affect the ability of Medicare recipients to get fair, favorable decisions. In addition, Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), two of the principal authors of the 2003 Medicare law, wrote a letter to HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt expressing concern over the number of judges under the new policy. They also expressed concern that the new system may not be in place by the deadline.

HHS says the change will make hearing appeals more efficient, and that access to appeals will be as good as or better than the current system.

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Last Modified: 04/30/2005

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