The National Voice for Special Needs and Medicare-Medicaid Plans

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Recent News and SNP Policy Reports

News from the 2018 Spring Roundtable

April 10, 2018

The Special Needs Plan Alliance, the nation’s leading advocate for Special Needs and Medicare-Medicaid Plans, recently held its Spring Roundtable at the Capital Hilton in Washington, D.C. The bi-annual conference of insurers, state government representatives and federal rule makers was well attended and, this year, set against a milestone backdrop—Congress’ 2018 approval of permanent reauthorization for Medicare Advantage Special Needs Plans. Permanency, which the Alliance and its membership had long championed, was the star of the occasion.

The concept of integration looks to define the era of permanency; not merely through the alignment of Medicare and Medicaid benefits, but through the redefining of person-centered medicine and the infrastructure necessary to support whole-person care. With his keynote discussion on Integration for High-Risk Populations: Aligning Complex Medical, Behavioral Health and Social Support Needs, Dr. Roger Kathol set the tone for the two-day conference, conscientiously advocating for how permanency will enable plans to tackle the alignment of behavioral, social support and medical services along the lines of both care planning and payment reform. Moderated by SNP Alliance President and CEO Dr. Cheryl Miller, Dr. Kathol’s opening session highlighted both the unique patient populations served by SNPs and MMPs in addition to the challenges faced by plans in terms of behavioral health integration and at-home support for patients with multiple chronic behavioral health conditions.

A collection of leading state entitlement policy experts, along with their counterparts at the federal level, addressed the likely healthcare issues facing the Congress in 2018, as well as various issues at the state level that are front and center for SNPs and their enrollees. Central to these discussions were the challenges that are anticipated around implementation of unified grievance and appeals (G&A) requirements, how are states likely to modify MIPPA contracts to address integration options, and how can states and D-SNPs work toward integrated Models of Care.

The topic of Medicare Advantage revenue, sure to be the hotbed issue of 2018 in light of MedPAC’s recent urging for a revised MA payment formula, was focused through the lens of risk adjustment at a session that included a discussion of revenue-related topics from the 2019 Advance Notice. The focus on understanding the projected impact of the proposed changes in the CMS-HCC risk adjustment model, including the specific impact on average risk scores for dual eligible, disabled and aged groups, drove a thoroughly detailed conversation between Advanced Analytics’ Christie Teigland and Milliman’s Eric Goetsch.

The roundtable’s most heavily attended breakout was a listening session with CMS’ Medicare-Medicaid Coordination Office and Medicare Enrollment and Appeals Group staff on G&A and integration standards. The listening session explored provisions of the new integration legislation, allowing a direct conversation with rule makers before comments on the Dual Integration-MMCO Request for Stakeholder Input on Unified G&A are due April 11. The discussion was a candid and valuable exchange that members remarked would strengthen the underlying logic of their forthcoming comments; Marc Steinberg and Tobey Oliver from CMS moderated.

The Special Needs Plan Alliance’s Fall Roundtable will take place October 15 & 16, 2018 at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.C.

Implementing Improved Care for Special Needs Populations:
A Planning Grant

March 19, 2018

The Special Needs Plans Alliance received funding from The SCAN Foundation to conduct a planning and design effort on examining implementation of evidence-based care management or other best practices designed for special needs populations.

Final Report - 2018

Comments Submitted on Advance Notice on MA-HCC Risk Adjustment Model

March 5, 2018

SNP Alliance submitted two comment letters and an attachment to CMS sharing comments on the Advance Notice of Methodological Changes for Calendar Year (CY) 2019 for the Medicare Advantage (MA) CMS-HCC Risk Adjustment Model.

Click for Part I of Comments
Click for Part II of Comments
Click for Specific Network Workgroup Summary Attachment


SNP Alliance Press Release on SNP Permanency

Feburary 9, 2018

SNP Alliance celebrates that Special Needs Plans achieve permanency with the Passage of  H.R. 1982, the “Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018.”

Click to view Press Release


SNP Alliance Response to CMI RFI

November 20, 2017

SNP Alliance provides comment letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid: Innovation Center New Directions Request for Information (RFI)

Click for full comment letter


Implementing Improved Care for Special Needs Populations: A Planning Grant (SCAN Foundation)

October 2017 - Project Update

SNP Alliance received funding from The SCAN Foundation to conduct a planning and design effort on examining implementation of evidence-based care management or other best practices designed for special needs populations.

Click for view


SPECIAL NEEDS PLANS: Focusing on Social Determinants of Health among Duals

May 25, 2017 

A report developed by the SNP Alliance and the Center for Consumer Engagement in Health Innovation at Community Catalyst.  The report examines how two special needs health plans are responding to the social determinant of health characteristics to improve health outcomes for people who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.  Social determinants of health―also known as social risk factors―can significantly impact medical and health outcomes. Individuals who are dually eligible (low-income meeting Medicaid criteria, and disabled or elderly meeting Medicare criteria) often have more social risk factors than the general population.

Click for Full Report
Click for Press Release



March 31, 2015 - Inovalon

With input from The SNP Alliance, Inovalon conducted a study of CMS Star Measures, comparing unadjusted results of dual eligible to non-dual beneficiaries enrolled in the same health plan. Their "An Investigation of Medicare Advantage Dual Eligibles Member-Level Performance on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Five-Star Quality Measures," found that beneficiary income and other sociodemographic factors were strongly associated with adverse health outcomes. The findings support other evidence that factors and characteristics outside of the health plan and providers control affect outcomes and that plans that specialize in serving these vulnerable populations may be penalized in the quality measurement system.

Click for Full Report
Click for Press Release



SNP Alliance Gold Standards Framework
Gold Standards Executive Summary



Blueprint for the CMS Measures Management System, Version. 12.0 May 2016

National Quality Forum

Promoting Integrated and Coordinated Care that Addresses Social Risk for the Dual Eligible Beneficiary Population

Advancing Person-Centered Care for Dual Eligible Beneficiaries through Performance Measurement, Final Report, August 31, 2015


March 2017 Report to Congress - Chapter 13 

Medicare Advantage Program: Status Report; Chapter 12 in MedPACs March 2016 Report to Congress

Institute of Medicine

Accounting for Social Risk Factors in Medicare Payment: Identifying Social Risk Factors January 2016 [Abstract]

National Academies of Science, Engineering, Medicine

Accounting for Social Risk Factors in Medicare Payment

Social Risk Factors in Medicare Payment: Identifying Social Risk Factors January 2016 [Abstract]

RTI International

Measurement, Monitoring, and Evaluation of the Financial Alignment Initiative for Medicare-Medicaid Enrollees

Report on the Early Implementation of Demonstrations under the Financial Alignment Initiative, October 15, 2015