Bipartisan Majority of U.S. House of Representatives Urges CMS to Protect Seniors Enrolled in Medicare Advantage

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Source: Medicare Choices

A bipartisan group of 239 members of the House of Representatives sent a letter today urging CMS to protect more than 16 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage by maintaining current payment levels in 2016. The new letter, spearheaded by Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL), follows a bipartisan letter signed by 53 senators to prevent any further cuts to Medicare Advantage. Now, bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate have weighed in to protect beneficiaries from further cuts.

“The overwhelming, bipartisan support sends a strong message to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries that members of Congress are standing up to protect their coverage,” said AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni.

You can view the bipartisan House letter here. Highlights are included below:

  • “We are writing to express our serious concerns about the preliminary decisions CMS recently announced about Medicare Advantage (MA) payment changes for 2016 that will impact the health care choices and benefits of more than 16 million seniors and individuals with disabilities.”
  • “The ‘Advance Notice’ released on February 20 proposes additional cuts to 2016 payment rates on top of the nearly 10 percent cut that MA enrollees already have shouldered over the last two years. The newly proposed cuts could represent a significant threat to the health and financial security of seniors in our congressional districts who rely on their MA plans to meet their health care needs.”
  • “Approximately 550,000 MA enrollees lost their plans at the beginning of 2014, and another 570,000 lost their plans at the beginning of 2015. Beneficiaries in all 50 states have been impacted by these disruptions. We strongly believe that cuts to MA benefits would be deeply unfair to millions of our constituents who are counting on Congress and the Administration to stabilize this program.”
  • “Nationwide, more than 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries have chosen to enroll in MA plans. These plans are popular with enrollees because of an emphasis on improving health outcomes through innovative programs that emphasize preventive care, offer care coordination and disease management to help manage chronic conditions, and promptly treat medical conditions before they advance to a more serious stage.”
  • “We are concerned that further cuts to the MA program could undermine a coverage option that is critical to our nation’s Medicare beneficiaries, particularly those who have multiple chronic conditions and those with low incomes.”
  • “As CMS works to finalize 2016 payment rates, we strongly urge you to protect Medicare beneficiaries by reversing the proposed payment cuts and providing a stable policy environment for the MA program.”

Evidence shows that cuts to Medicare Advantage have already led to greater instability for the millions of seniors who rely on the program. A recent report from Oliver Wyman found that changes to Medicare Advantage payments proposed by CMS would result in a 1.2 percent cut in 2016. This new cut would be on top of a nearly 10 percent reduction in payments for 2014 and 2015. As a result, the cumulative impact of these proposed cuts would leave millions of seniors facing higher costs and reduced benefits – in some cases as much as $1,920 in 2016. The Wyman analysis notes that any additional payment reductions, when “combined with the significant cuts that occurred in 2014 and 2015, could result in a high degree of disruption in the MA market.”

As CMS prepares to finalize payment rates for next year, a growing number of voices are asking the agency to protect seniors from further cuts. The voices of bipartisan majorities in both the House and Senate join a broad array of providers, stakeholders, and seniors from across the country who are warning of the consequences the proposed cuts would have for beneficiaries. Final payment rates will be released on April 6, 2015.

AHIP’s Coalition for Medicare Choices (CMC) recently launched a new grassroots and ad campaign to protect Medicare Advantage seniors. The CMC’s 1.8 million seniors are writing letters and emails, making phone calls, attending events and engaging on social media to urge policymakers to protect Medicare Advantage from proposed cuts that could impact their coverage. The latest ads feature the personal stories of CMC members discussing how Medicare Advantage allows them to keep what matters most.

Founded in 1999, the CMC is a national grassroots organization of more than 1.8 million Medicare Advantage beneficiaries from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. 

View All News »