Senators Ask CMS Not to Cut Medicare Advantage

Forty senators have asked CMS not to cut Medicare Advantage payments, according to a letter obtained by America's Health Insurance Plans.

checkThe bipartisan group of lawmakers, led by Sens. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) and Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), wrote to CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to "raise serious concerns" about the effect Medicare Advantage reimbursement reductions could have on the program's beneficiaries.

"Given the impact that payment policies could have on our constituents, we ask that you prioritize beneficiaries' experience and minimize disruption in maintaining payment levels for 2015," the senators wrote.

CMS is expected to announce the 2015 Medicare Advantage pay rates Feb. 21, and health insurers are getting ready to oppose expected cuts. AHIP has estimated CMS will reduce reimbursement rates by 6 percent.

AHIP has said Medicare Advantage enrollees experienced benefit cuts of up to $70 per month as well as cost increases due to last year's 6 percent cut. According to AHIP, approximately 28 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage, or Medicare Part C, plans, which are private health insurance policies offered as an alternative to traditional Medicare.

"Seniors cannot afford another round of rate cuts to their Medicare Advantage coverage," AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni said in a news release. "CMS should protect seniors in the program by maintaining current payment levels next year."

In order to contain costs, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act cuts Medicare Advantage by $200 billion during a 10-year period. Republicans and insurers have opposed the cuts, but many industry experts say the reimbursement reductions haven't had a negative impact so far.

More Articles on Medicare Advantage:
Health Insurers Prepare to Fight Medicare Advantage Cuts
5 Observations on Medicare Spending Growth  
CMS Issues Proposed Rule Changes for Medicaid Advantage, Part D Plans

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