Payers spending 'buckets of money' lobbying against Medicare Advantage rate changes

The insurance industry is mounting its largest lobbying fight in years against CMS' proposed Medicare Advantage rate changes, The New York Times reported March 22. 

Payer executives and lobbyists are "flooding Capitol Hill to engage in their fiercest fight in years," the Times report said

The largest payers, including Humana and UnitedHealthcare, are the most vocal groups lobbying against the rate changes. UnitedHealth Group's chief executive has pressed the company's case on the Hill in person, according to the Times' reporting. 

Mark Miller, executive vice president of healthcare at advocacy group Arnold Ventures, told the Times payers are "pouring buckets of money" into the lobbying effort. 

Payer and provider groups have urged CMS not to move ahead with the proposed rate changes. Payer groups have said the proposed reimbursement rates constitute a cut to the program. 

HHS officials have said the proposal is not a cut to MA funding. 

In addition to courting lawmakers, groups representing payers are putting dollars into advertising campaigns. The Better Medicare Alliance, a group backed by several insurers, said a Super Bowl ad spurred around 142,000 calls and letters opposing the changes. 

Meena Seshamani, MD, PhD, director of the Center for Medicare, told the Times the agency will not be persuaded by the lobbying efforts. 

"We will not be deterred by industry hacks and deep-pocketed disinformation campaigns," Dr. Seshamani said. 

Read more here. 

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