MLTC UPDATE: ICS MLTC Plan to close March 31, 2019 - Transfers to VNS CHOICE get One-Year Continuity of Care
04 Mar, 2019
This is a running news article with updates on Managed Long Term Care in NYS.
Please see archives for past articles:
March 5, 2019 Update
- ICS CLOSING MARCH 31, 2019. As reported in January 2019 Update below, ICS MLTC plan will be closing at the end of March 2019, Following the "unofficial" letter of Jan. 7, 2019 announcing the closing from ICS CEO Rick Surpin, the NYS Department of Health sent all ICS members a letter dated January 25, 2019 explaining that those members who did not contact NY Medicaid Choice to enroll in an MLTC plan by Mar. 20, 2019 would be assigned to VNS Choice MLTC plan eff. 4/1/19. ICS members who move to VNS Choice will receive the same type and amount of services ICS provided for ONE YEAR, while those who join a different plan will have only the standard 120-day continuity of care provided for in the state's MLTC Transition policy MLTC Policy 17.02.
New Health Home. Also, ICS members who go to VNS CHOICE may enroll in the new ICS Health Home that will be under contract with VNS to manage care for some ICS members who transfer to VNS. Read a letter from ICS in English or Spanish about joining the ICS Health Home. Those interested in joining the Health Home should fill out the consent form and give it to an ICS staff person, email it to ICS at MSCDocMgt@icsny.org or fax it to 718-907-1670. Here is the form in English, Spanish, Russian and Chinese. Read the ICS Health Home brochure in English, Spanish or Russian. For questions call ICS at 1.877.ICS.2525. See more on the ICS website.
UPDATE ABOUT TRANSITION RIGHTS/CONTINUITY OF CARE in NEW MLTC PLAN. In the January 2019 Update, we reported that ICS members who transferred to a new plan for February 2019 would NOT be entitled to transition rights, meaning that the new plan was not required to continue their same ICS plan of care for one year (if they moved to VNS Choice) or 120 days (if they moved to any other MLTC plan). The State Dept. of Health later revised this policy. As long as an individual was a member of ICS in January 2019, if they transferred to a different MLTC plan effective February 2019 or later, they would have transition rights in the new plan (one year for VNS Choice and 120 days for any other plan).
NEW: If an ICS member moved to an MLTC plan other than VNS Choice effective February 2019 or later, they may still move to VNS CHOICE and receive the special one-year transition rights/ continuity of care -- with these limitations --
The member must have been enrolled in ICS during January 2019.
The member must transfer to VNS CHOICE effective December 2019 or earlier in order to be entitled to transition rights. If they transfer to VNS Choice effective January 2020 or later, they do not have transition rights.
The one-year special VNS transition period begins on April 1, 2019 and ends on March 31, 2020 if the member switches to VNS Choice effective on or after April 1, 2019. If the member switched to VNS Choice effective March 1, 2019 (having transferred from ICS to a different MLTC plan in February 2019), then the one-year transition period will end on February 28, 2020.
What AMOUNT and TYPES of services must VNS Choice continue to provide for a former ICS member who first transferred to a different MLTC plan in or after February 2019, and then moves to VNS Choice in or before December 2019?
The individual is entitled to the same amount and types of services that ICS had provided ONLY IF the new MLTC plan to which they switched is still providing that same plan of care. Since the new MLTC plan is required by MLTC Policy 17.02 to provide the same plan of care for 120 days, anyone who transfers to VNS Choice during the 120-day transition period is assured of receiving the same services that ICS had provided. If the individual transfers to VNS Choice after the 120 days has lapsed, and the new MLTC plan has already reduced services, then DOH has stated that VNS CHOICE is only required to provide continuity of care at the reduced level given by the last MLTC plan. However, if the proposed reduction in services by the new plan has not gone into effect, because the individual is entitled to "Aid Continuing" pending the appeal or because she won the appeal, then VNS Choice must continue the same services that ICS had provided.
To reduce services, the plan must send the member an Initial Adverse Determination notice that complies with MLTC Policy 16.06: Guidance on Notices Proposing to Reduce or Discontinue Personal Care Services or Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Services. If the member requests a Plan Appeal of the reduction, if the Plan denies the appeal, it must then send a Final Adverse Determination notice, which also complies with MLTC Policy 16.06. The member may then request a Fair Hearing. If the member requests the Plan Appeal and then, if needed, the Fair Hearing quickly within the short 10-day deadline, she will be entitled to Aid Continuing, which prohibits the plan from reducing services as proposed until the appeals are held and decided.
See more about Plan Appeals and the Notices that the plan must provide of any reduction here. Download this Fact Sheet about MLTC Appeals by NYLAG EFLRP.
Neither the "Lock-In" Rule (described in January 2019 Update) or the Removal of Permanent Nursing Home Care from the MLTC benefit (see Oct-Nov 2018 update) have been implemented. Both changes were enacted in the 2018 NYS Budget, but the state is still awaiting CMS approval for these changes.
NYS Budget proposals potentially impact access to long term care services. Gov. Cuomo again proposed to eliminate "spousal refusal," and has proposed sweeping changes in the Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Program. Read NYLAG Testimony about these and other Medicaid changes. Also see testimony and budget agenda of Medicaid Matters NY and more information on the CDPAP changes here.
January 2019 Update
New "Lock-In" Rule On Hold Pending CMS Approval - The date has been indefinitely postponed from Dec. 1, 2018 to bar MLTC enrollees from changing MLTC plans after the 1st 90 days in a plan. This State "lock-in" law is described here. This change requires approval by CMS which is still pending. For the time being, MLTC members may change plans any time. However, they should be aware that when a member "voluntarily" moves to a different plan, they do not have "transition rights," which mean that the new plan does not have to provide the same services in the same amounts as the previous plan did. These transition rights, under DOH policy, only apply if an MLTC plan closes, as happened for Guildnet and as will happen for ICS, described below. (See this article -- When an MLTC Plan Closes - What are the Members' Rights? and see Oct-Nov 2018 Update below re Guildnet closing.) If the new plan does reduce a member's hours, however, there are still claims under due process and DOH MLTC Policy 16.06 for challenging a reduction. Contact ICAN for more infomation.
Independence Care System (ICS) MLTC plan Announces Closing on March 31, 2019. As reported in Crain's New York Business on January 10, 2019, and as announced by ICS President Rick Surpin in an e-mail sent to colleagues on January 8, 2019, as reported in Crain's,
"...The state Department of Health has agreed to a deal with Independence Care System to wind down its managed long-term care plan by March 31 and transition members to a different insurer.
"If ICS' about 5,800 MLTC members do not pick a new plan by April 1, they automatically will be enrolled in VNSNY Choice...MLTC plan.... Members who join VNSNY Choice will be "guaranteed the same level of services they currently receive for one year," ICS said. Members who pick a different plan are eligible to maintain their same level of service for 120 days. ...
...Independence Care System, founded in 2000, specializes in providing coverage to people with physical disabilities and had struggled financially due to the more intensive services required by its members. ICS has a significant portion of members requiring 12- or 24-hour care by home health aides, according to disability advocates. The state's managed long-term care program is designed to provide nursing home-level care to people who are chronically ill or disabled with the goal of allowing them to remain at home.
"Caring for a high proportion of members with significant to severe disabilities made it increasingly fiscally unsustainable for ICS to continue as an MLTC plan," ICS said in its announcement.
- Under the state's Transition policy MLTC Policy 17.02: used when a plan closes, ICS members will receive an official letter on about Feb. 1, 2019, which is 60 days before the plan closing. That letter will give them the choice of moving to VNS Choice or selecting another MLTC plan. As Crain's reported, a special bonus for transferring to VNS Choice is that VNS Choice must keep the same services and hours of care that ICS provided for ONE YEAR. This is much longer than the standard "transition period" when a plan closes, which is 120 days. If they do nothing, they will be automatically assigned to VNS Choice.
- WARNING: ICS members should NOT transfer plans until they receive the official letter about ICS closing on around Feb. 1, 2019. If they transfer now (which would be effective Feb. 1st), under State DOH policy, they are not entitled to "Transition rights" under MLTC Policy 17.02. This means that the new plan is allowed, under DOH policy, to reduce their home care services when they enroll, or any time after. People who wait to change plans after they receive the official letter, on the other hand, have the right to keep their same services and hours of care for ONE YEAR if they go to VNS Choice, or for 120 days, if they pick any other plan. To pick VNS Choice, they can do nothing and just be automatically assigned.
- If an ICS member, having heard unofficial reports that it may close, already changed plans, and had their hours reduced, they may be able to challenge the reduction in hours. See information about new appeal procedures. They can call ICAN - the Ombudsprogram for MLTC members -- or call NYLAG at 212-613-7310 (Mon, Wed, Fri) or 212-613-5000 (M, W, Thursday 9-3 PM). Since September 2018, ICS enrollment has dropped by about 250 - raising fears that these members transferred out of ICS out of concern that they might be left without care if the plan closes. See enrollment chart.
- TIP: ICS Members may want to request their medical record from ICS, so that if the new plan tries to reduce their hours, they have the record of the care ICS authorized. AL MLTC members have the right to request their medical record. See Managed Long Term Care Guide p. 17. We recommend asking for all “UAS assessments” (Uniform Assessments by plan nurse), service authorizations, plans of care, and case management notes since you first received your current service plan. For example, if ICS increased your services from 24 hour live-in to 24-hour split-shift in May 2015, you would ask for the above documents since the MAY 2015 authorization.
Here’s where you can email or fax your request:
Email: MSCDocMgt@icsny.org Fax #: 718-907-1670
What happens after the transition period ends - 120 days or One Year in VNS Choice - May the new plan reduce member's hours? See this article about the member's rights to keep their same services unless the plan can prove that their condition improved, or some other change occurred.
October - Nov 2018 Update -
1. Upcoming Training & CLE Program on Managed Long Term Care - Nov. 14, 2018 at the New York Academy of Medicine. Click here for registration information. Conducted by NYLAG Evelyn Frank Legal Resources Program. CEU and CLE credits available Come to learn about the many changes described in this October 2018 update,
2. Guildnet MLTC and 4 FIDA Plans Closing - As reported in the September update, Guildnet is closing and 4 FIDA Plans are closing Jan. 1, 2019
GUILDNET MLTC - This notice was sent by New York Medicaid Choice to all Guildnet MLTC members on Oct. 19, 2018, stating that if they don't select a new plan by 12/19/2018 they will be auto-assigned to a new plan for January 1st. The notice states, "The Plan you select will continue to honor your current plan of care for 120 days from the date that you transfer to the new plan." These "transition rights" were authorized by the NYS DOH MLTC Policy 17.02 which requires continuity of care in the new plan after a plan closing. For Guildnet FIDA, See item #3 below.
A few notes about the Guildnet closing and some tips:
Priority of Keeping Member's Long-time Home Care Workers. One key factor in selecting a new plan is to pick one that contracts with the same Licensed Home Care Services Agency (LHCSA) or CDPAP Fiscal Intermediary through which the member has her home care aides. Please note that another change that went into effect October 1, 2018 is that MLTC plans were required to reduce the number of their contracts with LHCSAs, which means that many MLTC members may be losing a long-time aide. It is therefore critical to find a plan that will enable the client to maintain a longtime trusted aide. This change is described here, with links to relevant documents, including the DOH guidance posted in August 2018.
Another factor in selecting a plan is that the plan will continue the same hours that Guildnet has authorized after the end of the 120-day transition period, during which the new plan must continue the old hours. While this would be desirable to confirm to prevent the need for appeals down the road, it may not be possible to obtain a plan's commitment to continue this amount of hours. Therefore, we suggest that once you identify a plan that contracts with the same home care provider agency, that the member contact NY Medicaid Choice and request to be enrolled in that plan. Under Policy 17.02, they do not have to be assessed by the new plan.. It says,
"... NYMC will subsequently process the enrollment transaction to the receiving plan.....The new plan must accept the transfer enrollment of all enrollees that select the plan. These transferring enrollees are presumed to meet the eligibility requirements for MLTC and are not required to be assessed prior to enrollment."
They might do this between November 20th and December 19th, so that the new plan enrollment will begin January 1, 2019. After that, the plan must continue the same plan of care for 120 days.
MLTC members - What happens after 120 days? [FIDA - 90 days, see more below] The new plan must conduct an assessment within 30 days, but may not reduce hours until after the 120 days. While Policy 17.02 does not say, another policy clearly limits plans from reducing hours, unless there is a specific change in the enrollee's condition or circumstances since the original plan of care was authorized, and that fewer hours are needed because of that change. Please review MLTC Policy 16.06: Guidance on Notices Proposing to Reduce or Discontinue Personal Care Services or Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Services. This guidance provides explicit limitations on when plans may reduce hours, and applies to the new plan to which a member transfers when an old plan closes. If plan claims a justification for reduction, it must send Notice of Reduction at least days before the proposed effective date of the reduction, with the right to request a plan appeal (internal appeal), with Aid Continuing if the appeal is requested before the effective date. See more about the new plan appeal or exhaustion requirements here.
Get Case Record from Guildnet. Especially for consumers receiving 10+ hours/day or 24/7 care, they should request from Guildnet now, before they are transitioned, copies of their case record, including at least the last biannual Uniform Assessment System (UAS) assessments, and the last two authorizations or notices authorizing their current plan of care. If they've received the current plan of care for a longer period of time, they might request these documents going back to the first time that Guildnet authorized their current plan of care. These records may be useful if a new plan tries to reduce hours.
How to request records: The MLTC Enrollee Rights that is contained in every MLTC plan model contract states in part, "You have the Right to get a copy of your medical records and ask that the records be amended or corrected." See model contract Appendix L (p. 153 of PDF) This right is also in the NYS DOH Managed Long Term Care Consumer guide, available here (see p. 17), and in all plan member handbooks. We are finding out the best way to request records. Until further information is available, we suggest emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org or mailing it to GuildNet Member Services 250 West 57th Street 10th floor New York, NY 10107 or call Member Services at New York City: 212-769-7855 Brooklyn: 718-495-2200 Toll Free: 800-932-4703
If you want your records to be released to a representative or anyone other than you, include a HIPPA release - OCA Form No. 960 - Authorization for Release of Health Information Pursuant to HIPAA
If a Guildnet member arranges to be assessed by a new plan, whether referred by NY Medicaid Choice or by the member reached out to a new plan, and the new plan says they would give fewer hours than Guildnet had authorized, the individual should not sign anything that might be interpreted as agreeing to this reduced plan of care. If they do sign an enrollment agreement, or even sign a reduced plan of care, we believe advocacy can be done to protect the member's rights to continuity of care under Policy 17.02. However, this will likely require advocacy once they transfer.
Under Policy 17.02 quoted above, a Guildnet member who calls NY Medicaid Choice may ask NYMC to directly enroll them in a particular plan of their choice, without signing any enrollment agreement. If they call NYMC and NYMC refers them to contact a plan to be assessed, they can cite Poilcy 17.02 and say that they prefer to be directly enrolled into the selected plan.
- LOCK IN - If member is unhappy with their new plan, may they change plans? Think twice before changing plans again for two reasons.
NEW LOCK IN RULES - If hey change to the new plan on December 1st or later, new "lock-in" rules go into effect. These will allow MLTC members to change plans only in the first 90 days after enrollment. After, that they are locked in for the next nine months and may only change plans for good cause. This change has not yet been approved by CMS as of Oct. 29, 2018 so it may not go into effect on December 1st as the State has proposed. Here is the proposed notice DOH will send to all MLTC members explaining the new lock-in rule.
Second, if the member changes plans again, State policy has been that changing plans a second time after a plan closing is a "voluntary" change, so the 2nd plan is not required to give the 120-day continuity rights. The State's view is that the enrollee has agreed to the plan's plan of care and number of hours of service, so has agreed to any reduction of hours that entails. Advocates may disagree with this policy, which may be subject to challenge, but as of now this is the State's policy.
- FIDA CLOSINGS - Four FIDA plans are also closing in January 2019:
- Guildnet GoldPlus FIDA plan - NYC only (418 members)
- Village Care Max Full Advantage NYC only ( 23 members)
- MetroPlus FIDA NYC only (205 members)
- AgeWell NY FIDA plan - NYC, Suffolk, Nassau, & Westchester (247 members) -- NOTE that Agewell was the SOLE FIDA plan in Suffolk county.
- GUILDNET FIDA - These notices were sent by Guildnet and by New York Medicaid Choice to all Guildnet Gold Plus FIDA plan members in early October 2018, stating that if they don't select a new plan by 12/31/18, they will be auto-assigned to Healthfirst AbsoluteCare FIDA plan for January 1st. As the notices state, consumers who are assigned to Healthfirst FIDA have transition rights to continue receiving services, including homcare, at their current levels for 90 days.
Warning that as of now, MLTC Policy 17.02 does not specifically apply to FIDA. However, if participants in terminating FIDA plans choose to switch to another FIDA plan, they will be given a 90-day transition period per the 3-way contract (§ 22.214.171.124). It is less clear what transition rights members of a closing FIDA plan have if they switch to an MLTC plan. Stay tuned for more on that. This is especially critical for Suffolk County residents, where the plan that is closing - Agewell FIDA - was the ONLY FIDA plan, so they do not have the option of switching to another FIDA plan. They may switch to the sole Medicaid Advantage Plus (MAP) plan in Suffok County (VNS Choice FIDA) or to the sole PACE plan in Suffolk (Centerlight PACE).
For plan options see the NY Medicaid Choice website:
Long Term Care Plans in Long Island
Long Term Care Plans in Hudson Valley
Long Term Care Plans in New York City
Remember Medicare Part D! Additionally, If a member of a closing FIDA plan decides to switch to an MLTC plan instead of to another FIDA plan or another "fully capitated" plan like PACE or Medicaid Advantage Plus, they must remember to select and enroll in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan for January 1, 2019. Before, the FIDA plan covered their drugs. Now, they need to enroll in a stand-alone plan. For more info on Medicare Part D see a training manual and other info here and see NYS plans in 2019.
- Exclusion of Nursing Home Residents from MLTC plans. In late September, September 2018, NYS DOH submitted a request to CMS to amend the 1115 waiver to exclude permanent nursing home residents from MLTC enrollment after 3 months. The State's proposal and accompanying documents are posted on the State's MRT webpage here. This is a reversal of the policy in effect since 2015, described in this article.
NYLAG's comments on the rule state that the "clock" should not start ticking toward three months until disenrollment if the member intends to return home. Disenrollment will make it much harder to return home. The proposed procedures do state that the period in which Medicare is covering all or part of a rehab stay will not count toward the 3 months of permanent placement. Also, NYLAG and other consumer advocates urged that plans must give notice of a decision to consider them "permanently placed," which the consumer should have the right to appeal. These decisions must be made with involvement of the consumer, not unilaterally by a managed care plan or nursing home.
The comment period to submit comments to the State on this proposal is open until November 23, 2018. Comments can be submitted via email to email@example.com. In the subject line please indicate Proposed NH Benefit/Lock In 1115 Amendment Comments.
September 2018 Update -
1. Upcoming Training & CLE Program on Managed Long Term Care - Nov. 14, 2018 at the New York Academy of Medicine. Click here for registration information. Conducted by NYLAG Evelyn Frank Legal Resources Program
2. The NYS Dept. of Health has confirmed that GUILDNET will CLOSE in JANUARY 2019; UnitedHealthCare is pulling out of 4 upstate counties in February 2019:
Guildnet is terminating all of its health insurance products in New York State effective 1/1/2019, including the following plans shown with enrollment as of August 2018 (TOTAL - 8,211 members - all in NYC):
Guildnet Medicaid Advantage Plus - 478 members
Guildnet Gold Plus (FIDA) 417 members
Guildnet MLTC - 7,316 members
UnitedHealthcare is no longer offering their partial-capitation MLTC plan in the following counties effective 2/1/2019, shown with enrollment as of AUGUST 2018:
In both cases, per MLTC Policy 17.02, enrollees will receive advance 60-day written notice of the change, with an opportunity to choose a new plan before the effective date. or if they do not choose a new plan, they will be auto-assigned to a new plan effective Jan. 1, 2019.
Guildnet enrollees will receive notice the week of 10/15/2018, and must choose a new plan by 12/19/2018 to avoid auto-assignment. Under MLTC Policy 17.02 they can call NY Medicaid Choice which will do a "warm transfer" to their selected plan, without the need for a Conflict Free assessment (CFEEC).
WARNING: Please note that it is not clear exactly what date NY Medicaid Choice will begin doing "warm transfers," without a CFEEC. Until clarification is received, we advise Guildnet members to remain in Guildnet until they receive the letter in mid-October explaining their options.
UHC enrollees will receive notice in November regarding the plans closing effective Feb. 1, 2019; details to come
DOH said that Guldnet MLTC and UHC members will be randomly auto-assigned to a different plan if they do not select one by the deadline. However, DOH indicated that NY Medicaid Choice will conduct outreach with members to try to assign the member to a plan with the same licensed home care agency (LHCSA) in its network to promote continuity of care. FIDA auto-assignments will be fully “intelligent” based on Primary Care Provider and LHCSA.
Transition Rights - Continuity of Care -- These transitions are covered by MLTC Policy 17.02, with the following consequences:
The new plan must continue to honor the same service plan with the same providers and same amount of home care and other services for 120 days after the effective date, "or until the new plan has conducted an assessment and the enrollee has agreed to the new plan of care."
This is true whether the enrollee chooses their own plan before 12/19 or allows themselves to be autoassigned. However, it is not clear whether members have this protection YET. We are waiting for clarification about whether members who already are switching to another plan effective October 1st are protected by these continuity protections. Until this is confirmed, members should STAY IN THEIR CURRENT PLAN and wait for official notice before they switch plans.
Those who call NYMC before 12/19 to choose their plan will be able to do a “blind enrollment” (no pre-enrollment conflict-free assessment) Again, it is not clear whether members can do this now, or must wait til after Oct. notices go out to Guildnet members. Until this is clarified, we suggest that they remain in their current plan.
These transitions are subject to the new MLTC Lock-In policy that is effective for changes in plans 12/1/18 or later… New guidance was just issued on this. See Licensed Home Care Services Agencies (LHSCA) Contract Limitation Guidance – 08.17.2018
Guildnet enrollees will have 90 days from the effective date of their enrollment into a new plan, if on 12/1/18 or later, to switch plans (e.g., if they don’t like the plan they were autoassigned to)
After the 90 days, they will be locked into their plan for 9 months unless they can establish good cause
3. POLICY ISSUED IMPLEMENTING restriction on the number of Licensed Home Care Services Agencies that an MLTC plan may contract with, beginning Oct. 2018.
- The budget change is described here, with links to relevant documents.
- The DOH guidance posted in August 2018 sets forth an Exception process:
"An MLTC plan may request an exception targeted to specific patient needs. These include, as set forth below, continuity of service with a particular LHCSA or aide, to avoid disruption of service where geographic hardship exists or the region is otherwise hard to serve, or for the purpose of ensuring cultural or linguistic competencies." In part, if a plan stops contracting with one LHCSA to comply with the new limits, and an "enrollee wishes to be cared for by one or more home care workers employed by the current LHCSA, the MLTC plan may continue contracting with the current LHCSA for the purpose of continuing that enrollee´s care by those home care workers for up to three months." MLTC plans must notify DOH at LHCSAExceptions@health.ny.gov of the three–month extension of the LHCSA agreement. The guidance does not explain how an enrollee may request this extension.
- "An MLTC plan may request an exception to the maximum number of allowable contracts by demonstrating, to DOH´s satisfaction, that additional contracts are needed to ensure adequate access to services in a geographic area. Adequate access to services includes special needs services and services that are culturally or linguistically appropriate." Again, the guidance does not explain how an enrollee may request that the MLTC plan request an exception.
- On Aug. 21, 2018, the CEO of Guildnet sent a letter to all Guildnet employees stating that its Board of Directors had decided the previous day to close Guildnet effective 12/1/18. The letter (posted here) states that the plan will be working closely with the State Dept. of Health on the transition of its members to other MLTC plans. On August 28, 2018, Crain's NY Business reported that the NYS Dept. of Health (DOH) confirmed that "GuildNet had filed a request with the state to stop offering its MLTC plan. It said the nonprofit has stopped enrolling new members. 'The department is working with GuildNet to ensure continuity of care as it finalizes particulars of this plan,' a spokeswoman said." See this article which explains member "transition rights" when an MLTC plan closes. It is very important that members do not panic and switch to other plans until there is official notice from the State. People who switch plans now will not be protected with "transition rights" under MLTC Policy 17.02 that is described here. Read about consumer advocates' concerns about the State's transition policy here. As of August 2018, Guildnet has 7,316 MLTC Members in its MLTC plan, 478 in its Medicaid Advantage Plus plan, and 417 in its FIDA plan - all in NYC. Crain's implies that all three plans are closing but this has not been confirmed. Guildnet's enrollment has markedly decreased in the last year or two, from being the second largest MLTC plan in NYC to the 10th largest plan currently. See this chart. Read more about the Transition Policy when plans close here.
July 2018 Update
- NEWS OUTLETS REPORT POTENTIAL CLOSING OF INDEPENDENCE CARE SYSTEMS (ICS) MLTC PLAN later in 2018. See this article, with advice given by ICS in a memo to its Member Council, "It is in each ICS member's best interest to stay at ICS until notification comes from DOH because the extended continuity of care will only be offered to people at ICS at the time of notification." The "continuity of care" refers to the right of members of plans that close to receive their same plan of care for 120 days after they transfer to a new plan, under NYS DOH "MLTC Policy 17.02: MLTC Plan Transition Process – MLTC Market Alteration."
NYS LEGISLATURE ENACTS CHANGES IN MLTC IN STATE BUDGET. The NYS Dept. of Health is now preparing to implement various changes in the MLTC program that were enacted in the NYS Budget in April 2018.
Beginning December 2018, MLTC members will no longer be able to switch plans after a 3-month grace period after their enrollment. See this article for more about this change.
MLTC members who are permanently placed in a nursing home for more than 3 months will be disenrolled from the MLTC plans. .
Read about these and other MLTC changes in this article.
The new requirement to request an internal Plan Appeal of an Initial Adverse Determination of a managed care or MLTC plan, before one may request a Fair Hearing, began May 1, 2018. See more about these changes here. Find a link to watch a recorded webinar about these changes here.
March 27, 2018 update
The NYS Dept. of Health now has web pages for both MLTC and Mainstream Managed Care plans about the new "exhaustion" requirement -- members must now first appeal decisions of the plans in an internal "plan appeal" before requesting a fair hearing. For links to these pages, and to learn about webinars sponsored by the NYS Dept. of Health and by NYLAG Evelyn Frank Legal Resources Program about the changes, click here.
The final NYS budget is anxiously anticipated, with the legislature hoping to have it completed before March 30th, ahead of the weekend and Passover and Easter travel. To read about some of the proposals that affect Managed Long Term Care and Medicaid recipients generally, see this article.
February 28, 2018 update
- On Feb. 27, 2018, the starting date for the new requirements that MLTC member request Internal Appeals with their MLTC plans before requesting a Fair Hearing has been pushed back to May 1, 2018, from April 1, 2018. See this news article for information on the changes, and also this article that explains the new rules in more detail.
December 2017 Update
An update to the news below about the recent NYS Appellate Division decisions that allow lawsuits to go forward by home care aides challenging a 2010 NYS Dept. of Labor policy that allows live-in aides to be paid only 13 hours/day. The courts found that the 2010 policy is contrary to the state labor regulations that require that the minimum wage be paid for every hour worked, unless the worker actually resides in the consumer's home.
On Oct. 25, 2017, the NYS Dept. of Labor published an "emergency regulation" (p. 5 of link) that amends the NYS minimum wage regulations in a way that appears to attempt to undermine the recent appellate court decisions. Those decisions found that the 2010 NYS Dept. of Labor policy RO-09-0169 Live-In Companionsthat allowed live-in aides to be paid 13 hours for a 24-hour day, if they do not actually live with the consumer, conflicted with the actual state minimum wage regulations. Now the State amended the minimum wage regulations to state that live-in aides need not be paid for the 3 1-hour meal periods and 8 hours of sleep time (totaling 11 hours/day) that are excluded from hours worked under the federal minimum wage regulations as amended by the Obama administration. The amendments appear to be intended to adopt the 2010 policy guidance RO-09-0169 Live-In Companionsand allow payment of 13 hours/day.. If the Court of Appeals accepts review of the Appellate Division cases, the impact of the regulatory amendments will no doubt be disputed. In the meantime, it is not clear what is the impact of the amendment to the regulations. See consumer advocacy tips below if consumer's 24-hour shift is not staffed adequately by an MLTC plan or managed care plan.
August - October 2017 Update
MLTC Plan Closings Update
The new MLTC Policy 17.02 procedures will be used for Guildnet and North Shore LIJ Closings described below.
Guildnet - About 3,000 former members of Guildnet MLTC plan in Long Island and Westchester who transitioned to another plan after they heard Guildnet was closing, have received this Sept. 29, 2017 letter from the State telling them they may request that their hours be restored to the amount Guildnet authorized, if the new plan reduced their hours. To request that hours be restore, they must call New York Medicaid Choice before Dec. 29, 2017 at 1-888-401-MLTC or 1-888-401-6582. If they are still eligible for Medicaid, the new plan should increase their hours to the amount Guildnet authorized. If you have called NY Medicaid Choice and cannot get your former hours restored to the amount Guildnet gave, you can call NYLAG Special Litigation Unit at 212-613-5032 or call ICAN Ombudsprogram at 1-844-614-8800
The remaining 930 Guildnet members in Nassau, Suffolk & Westchester counties will received in mid-October that they have 60 days to select a new plan, or they will be auto-assigned to another plan The new plan must continue the same services that Guildnet provided for 120 days or until the member agrees to a change.
See more about the Transition Policy, status of plan closings, and SUGGESTED CONSUMER STRATEGIES to protect consumers from reductions in hours in this transition in this article.
North Shore LIJ MLTC - New York Newsday publicized the closing on September 1, 2017, Northwell to end long-term care plan that covers 6,000 elderly, On September 22, 2017, North Shore sent this letter to all of its 5,645 members in Nassau, Suffolk, and New York City. The letter informs members that the plan is closing 12/31/17. and that unless they enroll in a different plan before 11/10/17, they will be auto-assigned to Centers Plan for Health Living effective January 1, 2018. While the letter does not specifically say it, North Shore LIJ members should have the protections regarding keeping their same services, described above in new DOH MLTC Policy 17.02. See this article for more about the policy, advocate concerns about the policy, and consumer strategies to ensure that services are not reduced in the transition. If hours were or are cut when they transfer to a different plan, call NYLAG Special Litigation Unit at 212-613-5032 or call ICAN Ombudsprogram at 1-844-614-8800
See more about plan closings here, including which FIDA plans will be closing in January 2018
Two New FIDA Plans Launched in Westchester, while 5 FIDA Plans Slated to Close in 2018
When FIDA first expanded outside of New York City and Nassau counties to Westchester and Suffolk, only one plan -- Agewell FIDA -- was offered in those counties. Two new FIDA plans are available in Westchester County (since 7/1/17) -- Healthfirst and Riverspring. Agewell remains the only plan available in Suffolk. See complete list of FIDA plans , but note that the list will change in 2018 when these 5 FIDA plans close: Aetna, Guildnet (in Nassau County only), Fidelis, ICS, and North Shore -LIJ,
Home Care Aide Wages - Court Decisions, Wage Parity and Minimum Wage increases -
Home care workers, including CDPAP personal assistants, are entitled to increases in wages in 2017, with further increases in 2018. See
Appellate Division decisions strike down state rule that allows 24-hour live-in aides to be paid only 13 hours/day. Decisions state that 24-hour case home care workers must be paid for all 24 hours if they are “nonresidential,” meaning they do not exclusively reside in the consumer's home. The decisions were based, in part, on rejecting a 2010 state Dept. of Labor policy guideline RO-09-0169 Live-In Companionsas in conflict with state minimum wage regulations. Tokhtaman v. Human Care, LLC (1st Dept. 2017 NY Slip Op 02759); Andreyeva v. NY Home Att. Agency; Moreno v Future Care Health Serv. (2nd Dept.)
The million (or billion?) dollar question is how State will fund the additional pay for live-in workers in MLTC, mainstream managed care, CHHA, and in fee-for-service home care authorized by local Medicaid districts as "immediate need" services or for people excluded or exempt from MLTC or managed care. Consumers are seeing ripple effects of the ruling in home care agencies refusing to accept new "live in" cases. While rulings may be appealed, the decisions are not "stayed" and are arguably the binding interpretation of the law in NYC and the entire metro area covering about 12 other counties.
October 26, 2017 Update
- See above for news
about change in state labor regulations published Oct. 25, 2017.
ADVOCACY TIPS -- Members of MLTC or other managed care plans can file a grievance with your MLTC or managed plan and file a complaint with the NYS Dept. of Health if you are authorized for 24-hour live in care but the MLTC or managed care plan cannot find an agency to staff the case.
MORE TIPS: Also, consider whether your needs may meet the standards for 2x12 split shift care, and request the plan to increase your services. Call ICAN for help or guidance.
Heads Up re Assisted Living Program (ALP) and MLTC - The Assisted Living Program is expected to be "carved into" MLTC and Mainstream MMC, effective 10/1/18 for NYC, Long Island and Westchester, and effective 1/1/19 for the rest of the state. This means plans will now authorize and pay for ALP services, as they do nursing homes. Exact procedures are unknown, but we presume that current ALP residents will be "grandfathered in" as nursing home residents were grandfathered in when the nursing home benefit was carved into MLTC. See this article and MRT 1458.
U.S. Office of Inspector General releases report, "New York State Improperly Claimed Medicaid Reimbursement for Some Managed Long-Term Care Payments" (A-02-15-01026) -
From executive summary:
New York improperly claimed reimbursement for 36 of 100 payments made to Medicaid Managed Long-Term Care (MLTC) plans. Specifically, New York did not ensure that MLTC plans documented eligibility assessments of program applicants and reassessments of those already in the program, and conducted these assessments in a timely manner. New York also did not ensure that the plans provided services to beneficiaries according to a written care plan. Further, New York did not ensure that the plans enrolled and retained only those beneficiaries who required community-based services, and disenrolled beneficiaries who requested disenrollment in a timely manner.
In addition, CMS physicians found that for 71 beneficiaries associated with the payments we reviewed, the beneficiaries' MLTC plans did not comply with New York's contract requirements for service planning and care management.
May 2017 UPDATE
- HomeFirst, an MLTC plan run by ElderPlan, announced it is also pulling out of Suffolk County. As reported in Crain's Health Pulse, this is "... the latest example of an insurer narrowing its geographic coverage for chronically ill and disabled members, the health plan confirmed on Friday. The decision 'was driven by the difficulties we encountered effectively staffing and serving the needs of members across such an expansive geographic area,' said a spokeswoman for the nonprofit MJHS, which runs Elderplan. The insurer will continue to cover members' services until they pick a new plan, she said.
Crain's further reported, "The move follows the exit of another nonprofit managed long-term care plan, GuildNet, from Suffolk as well as Nassau and Westchester counties as of June 1. The two plans had covered 41% of the 5,735 managed long-term care enrollees in Suffolk County as of March. The state Department of Health is "closely tracking" the transition of members in Suffolk County following the exits of GuildNet and Elderplan, a spokeswoman told Crain's. There are still 10 plans offering coverage in the county, including Fidelis Care and North Shore-LIJ Health Plan. Earlier this month in response to GuildNet's exit, the department had said there was "ample capacity and choice" in the managed long-term care program."
- Guildnet Withdrawal from Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester - On May 13, 2017, NYS Dept. of Health sent over 4000 letters to members of Guildnet MLTC plan in 3 counties - Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester, clarifying information sent by Guildnet in April. (See April 2017 update below). The State Health Dept. clarified that members are not required to find a new plan by June 1st, and may remain in Guildnet after that date, and that Guildnet is required to continue providing them with MLTC services. The letter does confirm that this MLTC plan has requested to stop providing services in these 3 counties. However, the letter states Guildnet must continue providing services "until a smooth transfer can be completed to your new plan." Still not specified is what happens if the individual cannot find a plan willing to provide the same hours as Guildnet authorized. Advocates maintain that members have the right to continue the same amount of services. See letter posted here
The letter gives contact information for ICAN - OMBUDSPROGRAM FOR FIDA & MLTC Phone: 844-614-8800 TTY Relay Service: 711 Website: icannys.org firstname.lastname@example.org
April 2017 UPDATE
- Guildnet notified members in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester that its MLTC "...will no longer offer Managed Long Term Care (MLTC) services" in these counties "effective June 1, 2017.” The notice sent in late March further states, “It is important that you select a new MLTC plan before May 18, 2017 to assure a smooth transfer to your new plan." Download a copy of the notice sent to Guildnet's over 4000 members in these 3 counties. Here's more info about this change:
The letter further states, "You will continue to receive services from GuildNet until your transfer to your new plan is complete." Advocates are informed that members WILL CONTINUE to receive Guildnet MLTC services even after June 1, 2017 if they do not select a new plan.
Members will not be "auto-assigned" to a new MLTC plan if they do not enroll in one on their own.
Despite the letter's wording, advocates are informed that if other MLTC plans do not authorize the same amount or type of services that the member now receives from Guildnet, they do not have to change plans. Also, many MLTC plans are backed up and cannot schedule assessment visits until June or later. Members may stay in Guildnet after June 1, 2017. This is true regardless of what members may be told by staff of Guildnet, New York Medicaid Choice, or other organizations.
Also, some members have been notified that Guildnet will no longer contract with the home care agency that employs their home care worker. Advocates were told by the State Dept. of Health that Guildnet must do "single case" agreements with home care agencies. This means Guildnet will still pay the home care agency to continue to provide services to individual members after June 1st, even if that home care agency's contract with Guildnet ends on June 1st.
The Guildnet Gold Plus FIDA Plan continues to be offered in Nassau County and Guildnet Medicaid Advantage Plus (MAP) Plans continue in Nassau and Suffolk Counties
Transition Policy Requested. Advocates are asking the State to require the new plans (to which former Guildnet members are transferring) to continue the same services and same number of hours that Guildnet authorized. So far, the State has not agreed to issue this "transition policy." Transition policies require MLTC plans to continue the same services for 90 days that the consumer received before enrolling in MLTC, when the consumers are mandated to transition from fee-for-service personal care or CDPAP to MLTC. See, e.g. MLTC Policy 13.13, MLTC Policy 13.01 (revised)(period was later extended from 60 to 90 days in MLTC Policy 13.10) (All MLTC policy directives available at https://www.health.ny.gov/health_care/medicaid/redesign/mrt90/mltc_policies.htm). The same protection should apply in this situation, where a plan is effectively closing down. Advocates contend that the new plan should only be allowed to reduce services below the amount Guildnet had authorized if there is a change in the member's needs or circumstances, after giving proper advance notice of hearing rights. See MLTC Policy 16.06: Guidance on Notices Proposing to Reduce or Discontinue Personal Care Services or Consumer Directed Personal Assistance Services
The Guildnet letter does not give contact information for ICAN - the Independent Consumer Advocacy Network that contracts with the State Dept. of Health to provide information and advocacy for consumers about MLTC, FIDA, and other managed care plans. Members with questions or who have problems keeping the same hours, or facing disruptions in their care should call ICAN. Phone: 844-614-8800
TTY Relay Service: 711 Website: icannys.org e-mail: email@example.com
- Who IS AFFECTED – as of March 2017 - as shown in this chart comparing with Nov. 2016 enrollment, based on DOH enrollment data
- 35% of all 5,735 MLTC members in SUFFOLK (1,990 members)
27% of 6,438 MLTC members in NASSAU (1,753 members)
10% of 4,685 MLTC members in WESTCHESTER (451 members)
Background - In November 2016, as reported in the NYLAG MLTC news update article, Guildnet notified the State Dept. of Health that it "will no longer enroll members in Nassau, Suffolk and Westchester counties, according to a letter its chief sent to the state Department of Health. Alan Morse, CEO of GuildNet, told the Cuomo administration the 'calamitous state of reimbursement' made it no longer feasible to operate because the program was incurring 'substantial deficits.'" See story reported in Politico dated Nov. 23, 2016. On January 13, 2017, Crain's Health Pulse reported that Guildnet announced that it would hold off on giving the State the formal 90-day notice required before it exited from any counties. Crain's quoted Alan Morse, the CEO of Guildnet, "We said we would hold off on giving them formal notice until we figured out how well they would address our needs and how we're going to make the program work," with Mr. Morse referencing MLTC reimbursement rates.
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