Elderly couple walking outside

Two-thirds of Medicare recipients may not benefit from the federal government’s recent policy change allowing Medicare Advantage plans to cover long-term services and supports, according to a new analysis of Medicare data by the Commonwealth Fund.

That’s because they are enrolled in the traditional Medicare program.

The passage of the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 enabled Medicare Advantage plans to provide beneficiaries with nonmedical benefits, such as LTSS, that are not covered by the traditional Medicare program, the report noted.

“Accountable care organizations operating in traditional Medicare also should have the increased flexibility to provide nonmedical services,” the authors said, also putting forth the idea of integrated care organizations that would function similarly to ACOs and cover a broad range of LTSS needs.

“Although expanding Medicare coverage in tight budget times is controversial among policymakers, adding LTSS benefits could help older Medicare beneficiaries with LTSS needs while achieving greater efficiencies and value of spending for this population,” they wrote.