Did You Know?

Starting October 15, 2012: Medicare Open Enrollment Begins

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today that people with Medicare have more high quality choices and the performance of Medicare Advantage plans is improving.  CMS also released the 2013 quality ratings for Medicare health and drug plans on the web-based Medicare Plan Finder.  Beginning today, and throughout the Open Enrollment Period, people with Medicare can use the star ratings to compare the quality of health and drug plan options and select the plans that are the best value based on their needs in 2013. 

In 2013:

  • People with Medicare will have access to 127 four- or five-star Medicare Advantage plans.  These plans currently serve 37 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees, and may attract more with their improved quality ratings. In 2012, people with Medicare had access to 106 four or five star plans, which served only 28 percent of enrollees.
  • People with Medicare will have access to 26 four or five star prescription drug plans, which currently serve 18 percent of enrollees.  This is an improvement from 2012, in which 13 four or five star plans are serving only 9 percent of enrollees.

Medicare plans are given an overall rating on a 1 to 5 star scale, with 1 star representing poor performance and 5 stars representing excellent performance. Users of the Plan Finder will also see a gold star icon designating the top rated 5-star plans, and a different icon for those plans who are consistently poor performers. 

At the same time that quality is improving and benefits are increasing, premiums in the Medicare Advantage program are remaining steady. Since the Affordable Care Act was passed in 2010 through 2013, Medicare Advantage premiums have fallen by 10 percent and enrollment is increasing by 28 percent.  The average estimated basic Medicare prescription drug plan (PDP) premium is projected to hold steady from last year, at $30 for 2013. 

Medicare Open Enrollment runs from October 15th through December 7th. For more information about Open Enrollment, please visit:


A press release on today’s announcement will be available at: http://www.hhs.gov/news

For a fact sheet and details about the 2013 Part C and D Plan Quality Ratings released today, please visit:


If you have any questions, please contact the CMS Office of Legislation.  Thank you.

Ground-breaking public-private partnership to prevent health care fraud

New tools to fight fraud, strengthen federal and private health programs, and protect consumer and taxpayer dollars... Read more

Updated and enhanced tools for patients to compare hospitals and nursing homes

Two websites that help Americans make informed choices about hospitals and nursing homes have been redesigned and will make more information available to the public. Read more

Newly launched Marketplace Outreach and Education page

Starting in 2014, there will be a new way for people to buy health insurance. As you know, the Affordable Care Act created unprecedented opportunities for millions of Americans to access health insurance. This includes establishing the Health Insurance Marketplace, sometimes called “Exchanges.” To help facilitate a better understanding of the marketplace a new page was created on cms.gov.  Read more

Message from CMCS: Medicaid.gov gets summer update 

The Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services is pleased to announce a refresh of Medicaid.gov.  We have been encouraged by the positive feedback about the site we have gotten since its launch in December 2011. The improvements we are rolling out this summer are based on data regarding the site’s usage to date, as well as user surveys.

Here are some of our initial changes:

  • The front page has been reorganized to make it easier for visitors to find the information they are looking for, and to highlight topics of special interest
  • We have added the “New and Notable” section on the front page, increasing our ability to showcase the latest information from CMCS  
  • We have added a new data and technology page to feature all the work underway to help states and others in getting IT systems ready for 2014
  • We have added a “CHIP” tab at the top of the front page that enables easy navigation to newly organized information on the CHIP program
  • The state profiles section continues to be prominently featured, and we will continue to make the information we display about each state’s Medicaid program more robust

We hope these enhancements make the site even more useful for stakeholders and we welcome your ongoing feedback.

CMS has a new look! 

This new visual identity mark logo represents CMS in motion - moving forward, expanding to help new and different groups of people get access to health care. Keep an eye out for our newest logo whenever receiving documents from us. We’re always moving forward in our endless pursuit to better serve the American people.

 OCR’s HIPAA Privacy, Security and Breach Notification Audit Program & Protocol

OCR posted on its website the protocol used to conduct the audits required by the HITECH Act.  The OCR HIPAA Audit program analyzes key processes, controls, and policies of selected covered entities pursuant to the HITECH Act audit requirement.  OCR established a comprehensive audit protocol that contains the requirements to be assessed through these performance audits. The entire audit protocol is organized around modules, representing separate elements of privacy, security, and breach notification.  The combination of these multiple requirements may vary based on the type of covered entity selected for review.

  • The audit protocol covers Privacy Rule requirements for (1) notice of privacy practices for PHI, (2) rights to request privacy protection for PHI, (3) access of individuals to PHI, (4) administrative requirements, (5) uses and disclosures of PHI, (6) amendment of PHI, and (7) accounting of disclosures.
  • The protocol covers Security Rule requirements for administrative, physical, and technical safeguards.
  • The protocol covers requirements for the Breach Notification Rule.

Learn more about the OCR HIPAA Audit Program and access the audit protocol.