Payment cuts did not reduce Medicare Advantage enrollment: Study

Cuts in Medicare Advantage benchmark payments did not lead to slower growth in enrollment, a study published June 24 in JAMA Health Forum found.  

The study, written by researchers at the Philadelphia-based University of Pennsylvania and National Bureau of Economic Research in Cambridge, Mass., compared rates of Medicare Advantage enrollment in counties that faced high benchmark payment cuts to those with lower cuts. 

The ACA cut benchmark payments to Medicare Advantage plans by recalculating payments at the county level. 

Counties with more substantial benchmark payment cuts did not have lower enrollments in the eight-year study period compared to counties that received smaller payment reductions, the study found. 

The study's authors wrote that the data suggests that cuts in payments do not lead plans to eliminate benefits that enrollees find the most valuable.

"In the context of the ongoing debate regarding the size and federal costs of the MA program, these findings suggest that prior reforms were associated with lower federal spending on MA without notably compromising beneficiary access to the MA market," the authors wrote. 

Read the full study here. 

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