Tuesday, April 2, 2013

4/1 News Flash - CMS Reverses Course and Increases Medicare Advantage Payment Rate

4/1/13 - CMS Releases Final 2014 Medicare Advantage Payment Rates (Source - Reuters)

In a reversal that followed intense lobbying by the insurance industry and members of Congress, the U.S. government said it will increase the payment rate for health insurers that offer coverage through the Medicare Advantage (Part C) program that covers approximately 14 million Medicare beneficiaries.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced yesterday that it will increase the payment rate by 3.3 percent in 2014, reversing a 2.3 percent cut announced in February.  CMS declared that the changes came "after careful consideration of public comments."

"The policies announced today further the agency's goal of improving payment accuracy in all our programs, while at the same time ensuring program stability and preserving beneficiary choice," Jonathan Blum, acting principal deputy administrator for the CMS, said in a statement.

Some insurers had hinted they would drop their Medicare Advantage plan offerings if CMS followed through with its initial proposal; which would, combined with other aspects of the new health care reform legislation, increase MA plan premiums between $50 and $90 per month according to actuaries at Oliver Wyman.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle took those concerns on board.  More than 160 of them joined an effort to reverse the previously announced rate cut, according to America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP).

"We have concerns that if CMS does not make this adjustment, many Medicare Advantage enrollees in Massachusetts, and across the country, will face higher premiums and fewer benefits," said the Massachusetts delegation's letter, which was addressed to Marilyn Tavenner, acting CMS administrator, and dated March 27.

Earlier in March, a large bipartisan group of senators highlighted the threat of plans potentially exiting the Medicare Advantage market altogether.  And in recent months, "The Coalition for Medicare Choice," which is funded by AHIP and other private insurers, lobbied hard against the proposed Medicare Advantage cuts through television advertising and social media.  The Coalition posted on its website the Oliver Wyman study warning of a "significant amount of upheaval" if the original 2014 rate plan went through.

For further information, click on these links:

4/1/2013 Reuters Article

The Coalition for Medicare Choices Website

Until next time,

Andrew Herman
AH Insurance Services, Inc.

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