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July 21 --  The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) seeks emergency clearance for a COVID-19 Supplement to the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) because of the urgent need to obtain timely data to assess the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the Medicare population. Adding a COVID-19 Supplement to the MCBS data collection in October 2020 will provide critical information to CMS and the public. Comments are due by July 27, 2020.  Once the emergency information collection request is approved, CMS plans to seek public comments during the required 60-day and 30-day notice and comment periods associated with obtaining a standard (non-emergency) OMB approval for extending the information collection request as part of the MCBS.
 
The Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey (MCBS) is the most comprehensive and complete survey available on the Medicare population and is essential in capturing data not otherwise collected through our operations. The MCBS is a nationally-representative, longitudinal survey of Medicare beneficiaries that we sponsor and is directed by the Office of Enterprise Data and Analytics (OEDA). The survey captures beneficiary information whether aged or disabled, living in the community or facility, or serviced by managed care or fee-for-service. Data produced as part of the MCBS are enhanced with our administrative data (e.g. fee-for-service claims, prescription drug event data, enrollment, etc.) to provide users with more accurate and complete estimates of total health care costs and utilization. The MCBS has been continuously fielded for more than 28 years, encompassing over 1 million interviews and more than 100,000 survey participants. Respondents participate in up to 11 interviews over a four year period. This gives a comprehensive picture of health care costs and utilization over a period of time.

With the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S., CMS is uniquely positioned to quickly collect vital information on how the pandemic is impacting the Medicare population by utilizing the MCBS. MCBS beneficiaries, by definition, are most at risk for underlying conditions that may lead to more severe COVID-19 complications. This new clearance requests approval to add the Fall COVID-19 Supplement to the MCBS Fall 2020 Round 88 data collection. Due to the emergence of this public health crisis, a Supplement to the MCBS is especially well-suited to provide CMS critical data on measures of Medicare beneficiary knowledge about telehealth, social distancing and other important preventive health behaviors, along with updated information about COVID-19 testing and the results of those tests. Since the MCBS has a sample size sufficient for estimation, it provides a ready source to obtain high quality data.

The MCBS COVID-19 Supplement will be administered to respondents living in the community and to facility staff who answer questions on behalf of the sampled beneficiary. Respondents will participate by telephone to answer the Supplement questions.   
 
Federal Register notice: https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2020/07/21/2020-15677/emergency-clearance-public-information-collection-requirements-submitted-to-the-office-of-management
Proposed MCBS COVID-19 Supplement forms and supporting statement: https://www.cms.gov/Regulations-and-Guidance/Legislation/PaperworkReductionActof1995/PRA-Listing-Items/CMS-P-0015A

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