February 23, 2015

ICYMI: Bipartisan Majority of Senators Urge CMS to Maintain Medicare Advantage Payment Levels

With preliminary Medicare Advantage rates coming out tomorrow, more concerns are being raised about the possibility of new cuts to Medicare Advantage.

A bipartisan majority of U.S. Senators, led by Senator Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), wrote CMS this week urging it to maintain Medicare Advantage payment levels to protect seniors.

Below are highlights from the bipartisan letter:

“We urge you to minimize disruptions for beneficiaries enrolled in the MA program by maintaining payment levels and providing a stable policy environment for 2016.”

“We support the MA plans offered today for many reasons, including their emphasis on preventive care beginning with in-home health assessments, the systems of coordinated care they have developed to provide for the seamless delivery of health care services, and disease management services they provide for those with chronic conditions.”

“This is particularly true for low-income beneficiaries who are financially vulnerable, as well as rural and minority populations who are seeing fewer plan choices. Furthermore, such disruptions threaten to impede health plans from driving the innovation that has resulted in better coordinated care and improved outcomes for beneficiaries who enroll in Medicare Advantage.”

“At a time of broad agreement on the need to shift U.S. health care to focus on care coordination, quality, and value-based payments, it would be counterproductive to jeopardize a program that is already driven by and aligned toward those goals.”

“We urge you to provide needed stability to the MA program that will protect MA enrollees from disruptive changes in 2016.”

See the full Senate letter here.

Earlier this week, the Better Medicare Alliance also wrote CMS, urging the agency “to stabilize Medicare Advantage payment rates for 2016 to ensure continuity, affordability and peace of mind for the millions of seniors who depend on Medicare Advantage for their care.”

See the full Better Medicare Alliance letter here.

Earlier today, the Better Medicare Alliance also released a new report from Milliman showing that recent years’ cuts mean Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are paying more and getting less. The report found soaring out-of-pocket costs for seniors who need the most care. Seniors are losing choices, too, as Medicare Advantage is now not available in 211 U.S. counties.

See the Milliman report here.

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