Senate report pushes more Medicare Advantage rules because of 'misleading and aggressive' marketing

Senate Finance Committee Democrats are pushing for tighter regulation of Medicare Advantage marketing from CMS and Congress. 

In a report published Nov. 3, the Finance Committee members urge several actions from Congress and CMS, including closing loopholes that allow brokers to cold call older adults, monitoring Medicare Advantage disenrollment patterns and supporting unbiased sources of information for Medicare enrollees. 

The lawmakers also called on CMS to issue warnings to older adults, such as to use caution calling TV helplines, to contact the official Medicare helpline if they think they have been enrolled in a plan that won't work for them and to be wary of providing personal information online. 

In October, CMS indicated that it will crack down on deceptive marketing practices and will no longer allow Medicare Advantage or Part D prescription drug plans to advertise on television without agency approval first. 

The report describes the deluge of marketing directed at older adults. Medicare-eligible individuals have received mailers meant to look like federal documents, sometimes up to 20 calls from insurance brokers in a single day and have even been approached by brokers while grocery shopping. 

The report detailed complaints about Medicare Advantage marketing from 14 states.

In addition to deceptive claims, states reported other concerns with marketing practices  — five states shared examples of insurance brokers targeting individuals with cognitive impairments, and six states reported instances where individuals weren't aware they had been signed up for a Medicare Advantage plan. 

Another concern for states was Medicare Advantage plan representatives misrepresenting networks to potential customers. Missouri reported an instance of a 94-year-old woman with dementia who was sold a Medicare Advantage plan with no in-network providers in her rural area. 

Read the full report here. 

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