This month, the National Health Law Program (NHeLP) released an issue brief explaining the importance of the public comment process, how to submit comments, and how comments impact the implementation of federal policies.
Every time a federal agency, including the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), wants to adopt or change regulations, it has to go through a formal process during which it asks for and considers public input. Regulations are the formal rules that agencies create to interpret, provide detail to, and implement federal laws that the agencies are charged with administering. Often, a law doesn’t have complete details about how a program will work, but authorizes an agency to fill in these gaps.
For example, a law could state that Medicare must cover vision care, undoing the previous carve out, but leave it to CMS to determine the details regarding the policy change—such as how frequently eye exams and new glasses should be covered, whether there should be a limitation on the cost of frames, and the scope of coverage for contacts.
The issue brief explains how to find and respond to comment opportunities, and includes information about additional resources. The Medicare Rights Center regularly participates in the federal regulatory process, weighing in on proposed changes to programs and policies that are important to people with Medicare.
We encourage you to do the same! We frequently post our comments and shorter summaries on our policy resources page and this blog, and we invite you to use our thoughts and words as jumping off points for your own comments and ideas, or to borrow from our language if it reflects your experience and opinions.