Washington, D.C. –Better Medicare Alliance (BMA) President and CEO Allyson Y. Schwartz released the following statement in response to the CY2018 Medicare Advantage (MA) Final Rate Notice and Call Letter released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) today:
“Today, Better Medicare Alliance is encouraged by an announcement from new Medicare Chief Seema Verma that CMS is committed to strengthening Medicare Advantage. Ms. Verma also recognized the innovation in care driven by Medicare Advantage, as well as the need for flexibility to sustain progress in this high-value coverage. We will work with CMS to identify ways to achieve this shared goal to remove barriers and increase access to high-quality care for those most in need, especially beneficiaries with chronic conditions.
“An important step to enabling the full-value of Medicare Advantage and access to important benefits for more beneficiaries would be to lift or suspend an existing policy, called the benchmark cap that caps Medicare Advantage payment to pre-Affordable Care Act levels. It is unfortunate that CMS has found that it can not take regulatory action on this issue they agree undermines quality incentives and prevents millions of beneficiaries from receiving the additional benefits for enrolling in a high-quality Medicare Advantage plan.
“Over the course of 60 days, Better Medicare Alliance provided comments to CMS from its broad coalition of 82 ally organizations who sent letters urging the agency to use its authority to address the issue of the benchmark cap. Over 130,000 senior advocates participated in an online March on Washington, wrote letters, and sent postcards imploring for the benchmark cap to be lifted. We call on CMS to work with all of these key voices to communicate to Congress the need for legislative action.
“Better Medicare Alliance also expressed concerns regarding policies affecting Medicare Advantage retiree plans. And today, CMS announced a freeze on Medicare Advantage Employer Group Waiver Plan (EGWP) payment at the 2017 payment methodology to prevent potential negative impact on retirees who receive Medicare Advantage coverage through a former employer, union, or state and local government entities. In response to our request and other voices to slow the move to encounter data as a diagnosis source, CMS made the right decision to take a more cautious step by implementing a blend of 15% encounter data to calculate risk scores.
“While we are still reviewing the full impact of the Final Rate Notice released today, Better Medicare Alliance will continue to work with policymakers in Congress and the Administration to ensure a strong Medicare Advantage for millions of beneficiaries through adequate and accurate payment, innovative care delivery, and flexible plan design.”