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BETTER MEDICARE ALLIANCE COMMENTS ON 2019 POLICY PROPOSALS FOR MEDICARE ADVANTAGE

Washington, D.C. – Better Medicare Alliance (BMA), the leading advocacy coalition for Medicare Advantage sent a letter to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma regarding proposed policy changes for Medicare Advantage, the Medicare Prescription Drug Benefit, and other Medicare programs in 2019.

On November 16, 2017, CMS released a series of proposals in a rule on regulatory changes with the goal of lowering premiums and increasing choice for Medicare beneficiaries. In response, BMA submitted a comment letter outlining support and requests on behalf of the coalition of plans, providers, employers, retiree organizations, aging professionals and beneficiaries.

“As a community of health care experts that has responsibility for the care of millions of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries, we are pleased to provide insight to CMS. Medicare Advantage is an important part of the Medicare program. The proposed policies from CMS for 2019 indicate that the Administration acknowledges the opportunities to make policy changes to strengthen and grow Medicare Advantage, and is willing to take actionable steps forward,” said Allyson Y. Schwartz, BMA President and CEO

In the letter, BMA expressed support for the following key proposals:

  • Permitting variation in supplemental benefits included in Medicare Advantage plans and reinterpreting uniformity requirements to allow plans to shape benefit plans to meet the needs of specific populations.
  • Codifying the methodology to update the Star Rating System to improve transparency and predictability of changes to quality measures.
  • Streamlining government review of materials Medicare Advantage plans use to communicate with beneficiaries and providing Medicare Advantage enrollees with meaningful, actionable information about their health plan electronically and by mail upon request.
  • Permitting seamless conversion for beneficiaries from a Medicaid managed care plan into a Dual-eligible Special Needs Plan (D-SNP).

 

In 2017, BMA supported legislative and regulatory action to enhance flexibility in Medicare Advantage particularly to include a wider range of supplemental benefits that improve care and address social determinants of health, such as nutrition support, transportation, and home modification, for patients with specific conditions or for specified populations of enrollees. In the letter, BMA applauded CMS for using its regulatory authority to take action on the issue.

“Medicare Advantage should be allowed more capability to effectively customize care to improve patient outcomes. CMS’ proposal maintains all Medicare benefits for all Medicare Advantage enrollees, but would allow enhanced benefits for certain groups of high-need enrollees,” said Schwartz. “We fully support action by the Administration to take a holistic view of beneficiary health and use its regulatory authority in this way to help improve patient outcomes.”

In addition to expressing support for key changes in the proposed rule, BMA offered recommendations to ensure beneficiary information on certain changes, greater transparency and accountability in Star Ratings System and raised potential issues to be addressed in proposed changes in Part D.

 

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View the FULL TEXT OF THE LETTER.