Take Action: Protect Special Needs Plans

Special Needs Plans (SNPs) play an important role in Medicare’s ability to connect some of its most vulnerable patients with the kind of specialized, coordinated care that makes a difference in their lives.  These health plans were originally authorized by the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003.  Since then, SNPs have been regularly reauthorized by Congress, most recently in 2016.  However, without further Congressional action, SNP authority will expire at the end of 2018.

SNPs serve a crucial role for more than 2.4 million American seniors and persons with disabilities.  By design, these health plans offer enhanced care coordination and disease management that ensure beneficiaries receive high quality care to meet their health care needs.  SNPs fall into three categories:

1. Chronic Condition SNPs (C-SNPs) serve individuals with chronic illnesses like diabetes or heart failure.
2. Dual-Eligible SNPs (D-SNPs) serve individuals who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid.
3. Institutional SNPs (I-SNPs) serve individuals who require an institutional level of care, such as those living in nursing homes or similar facilities.

Research shows that SNPs are making a positive difference in the lives of beneficiaries, specifically through improved health outcomes when compared to traditional Medicare.  SNP quality of care has also steadily increased, as evidenced by the average Star Ratings awarded to these health plans in recent years.  It’s not hard to see why SNP enrollment has nearly tripled in the past decade.

Since their creation, SNPs have been extended seven times by Congress.  And, yet, despite their growth and the proven advances in quality and cost savings that have been achieved through these health plans, they are scheduled to expire on December 31, 2018.  Which is why we need Health Action Network members to urge Congress to permanently reauthorize SNPs.

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