CMS Dangles ‘Wild and Crazy’ Opening for Special Needs Plans

After interest among long-term care providers and Medicare Advantage insurers to partner on Institutional Special Needs Plans plateaued during the COVID-19 pandemic, a somewhat ambiguous provision in a recent CMS final rule has the potential to significantly increase the I-SNP market. By expanding the definition of qualifying facilities that serve institutionalized members, SNP experts say it could reduce current barriers to enrollment and garner interest from assisted living facilities (ALFs), which have largely been shut out of the I-SNP opportunity.

I-SNPs, which were permanently authorized in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, currently restrict enrollment to MA-eligible individuals who meet the definitions of “institutionalized” (i.e., they continuously reside for 90 days or longer in one of several types of long-term care facilities or are expected to need the level of services provided in such a facility) or “institutionalized-equivalent,” meaning they reside in an ALF and get the same level of care they’d receive in a qualifying long-term care facility. Such facilities that currently qualify (as defined by Medicaid or Medicare statute) are skilled nursing facilities, nursing facilities, intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, psychiatric hospitals, rehabilitation hospitals or units, long-term care facilities and “swing-bed” (e.g., critical access) hospitals.

© 2024 MMIT
Lauren Flynn Kelly

Lauren Flynn Kelly Managing Editor, Radar on Medicare Advantage

Lauren has been covering health business issues since the early 2000s and specializes in in-depth reporting on Medicare Advantage, managed Medicaid and Medicare Part D. She also possesses a deep understanding of the complex world of pharmacy benefit management, having written AIS Health’s Radar on Drug Benefits from 2004 to 2005 and again from 2011 to 2016. In addition to her role as managing editor of Radar on Medicare Advantage, she oversees AIS Health’s publications and manages the health editorial staff. She graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in English.

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