Senate Democrats push for more Medicare Advantage marketing regulations

U.S. Senate Democrats are urging CMS to continue its oversight of Medicare Advantage marketing practices and introduce additional regulations to protect consumers from deceptive tactics.

The 13 senators wrote in a Nov. 11 letter that a committee investigation and information from 15 state insurance departments revealed "a concerning pattern of misleading advertising materials, aggressive marketing tactics, and in some cases flat-out deception harmful to beneficiary access to care and health outcomes." 

The letter noted that deceptive MA marketing is a growing problem nationwide, and those affected often feel too embarrassed to report issues or scams.

Specifically, the lawmakers pointed to five changes they'd like made by the agency. They want a ban on educational and marketing events from occurring simultaneously and for CMS to monitor disenrollment patterns to target bad actors. The letter advocates for better training and guidelines for brokers and agents, along with more robust rules around marketing materials and cold-calling. Finally, the letter urges the agency to support unbiased sources of information for beneficiaries. 

"We urge you to implement these consumer protections through notice and comment rulemaking and sub-regulatory guidance as soon as possible," the senators wrote.

In October, CMS said it would no longer allow MA or Part D prescription drug plans to advertise on television without agency approval first. In the new policy effective Jan. 1, CMS cited MA sponsors overpromoting plan benefits and savings to individuals that may not be eligible, along with using confusing words and imagery. Plan sponsors are also responsible for all marketing activities from brokers and third-party agencies.

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