Washington, D.C. – Today, Better Medicare Alliance (BMA), the leading advocacy coalition supporting Medicare Advantage, announced the launch of “Medicare My Way,” an advocacy campaign in support of Medicare Advantage, the managed care, private option in Medicare that provides affordable, high-quality care for 18.5 million beneficiaries.
As part of the campaign, BMA is kicking off a three-week Digital March on Washington today organizing over 100,000 seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage to call on the Trump Administration and Congress to lift a cap on Medicare Advantage care. The online interactive map shows advocates in real-time as they sign up to make their voices heard.
In 2016, two million Medicare Advantage beneficiaries were denied the full value of a high-quality Medicare Advantage plan because of a technical provision in the Affordable Care Act known as the benchmark cap. In Medicare Advantage, plans that earn a high Star Quality rating receive a bonus payment they must apply to benefits for beneficiaries that are not provided under Traditional Fee-For-Service Medicare. Today, the benchmark cap policy prevents 4-Star or higher Medicare Advantage plans in certain counties from receiving payment they have earned to provide beneficiaries important benefits like vision, hearing, dental care and disease management programs.
“If Washington allows the cap to stay in place Medicare Advantage seniors in 40% of counties across the country could be negatively impacted, facing higher costs and fewer benefits,” said Allyson Y. Schwartz, BMA President and CEO. “From Congress, MedPAC, the health community, and beneficiaries themselves there is wide consensus that lifting the cap on Medicare Advantage care is long overdue. We are calling for action to be taken now.”
BMA ADVOCATES URGE NEW TRUMP CMS ADMINISTRATORS TO TAKE ACTION
Each year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announces policy changes from the Administration for Medicare Advantage. BMA advocates are urging newly appointed CMS leaders to use their authority to eliminate further negative beneficiary impact due to the benchmark cap policy. The final notice is expected to be announced on April 3, 2017.
Through BMA’s online advocacy portal, advocates will write letters, make phone calls, tell personal stories, and utilize social media platforms to urge policymakers to ensure access to the full value of high-quality Medicare Advantage plans.
BMA ALLIES CALL FOR CMS TO LIFT THE BENCHMARK CAP
As a coalition of 82 ally organizations that represents nurses, doctors, insurers, businesses and senior organizations, BMA also mobilized its allies to send seven letters to CMS leadership and state delegations on the issue of the benchmark cap.
“Medicare Advantage does a lot of things right, and one of those is rewarding the highest quality health plans with a premium bonus. But currently, those payments are limited by benchmark caps, meaning that a three-star health plan is paid the same as an otherwise similar five-star plan. Lifting the benchmark caps will help drive quality more quickly,” said Dr. Jeff Kang, President, ChenMed.
“We are concerned that failing to address the benchmark cap issue could impact over 3 million Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in capped counties across the country. Congress should act legislatively, or CMS should take steps administratively to address the benchmark cap issue as soon as possible. A failure to act means many beneficiaries will not receive the additional benefits for enrolling in a high-quality Medicare Advantage plan,” said Evelyn Ireland, Executive Director of the National Association of Dental Plans.
As part of the Medicare My Way campaign, BMA is also publishing an online microsite highlighting real patient stories and photos of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries on the value of the popular health coverage option for seniors and those with disabilities.
“Our grassroots effort highlighting beneficiary voices follows a letter-writing campaign from key organizations within the Better Medicare Alliance coalition as well as weeks of advertising in the Beltway,” said Adjoa Adofo, BMA Director of Communications.