Capps Pushes for Increased Medicare+Choice Reimbursements for San Luis Obispo County
In a recent letter to HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson, Rep. Lois Capps (D-Calif.) requested a higher reimbursement rate for San Luis Obispo County Medicare+Choice health plans. A bill approved by Congress last year raises the reimbursement rate to $525 per beneficiary per month for Medicare+Choice plans in counties with more than 250,000 people, but the rate for San Luis Obispo County plans will be increased to only $500 in 2002 because the county falls 3,319 people short of the population requirement. Despite the "small population shortfall," Capps is requesting that county HMOs receive the higher reimbursement rate. In her letter, Capps wrote, "The managed care companies have cited low reimbursement rates as the major reason for their decision to exit the [Medicare+Choice] program. These low rates threaten the financial stability of local hospitals and may force the last Medicare HMO provider in [the county] to withdraw as well, leaving my constituents with insufficient access to necessary health care. It is my hope that Medicare HMO companies serving ... seniors [in the county] can receive the same rate as counties with populations of 250,000 or more" (Capps release, 6/5).
Meanwhile, Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald (D-Calif.) last month held a meeting at the Carson Community Center for senior citizens in Los Angeles to discuss a government report she requested on Social Security, Medicare and prescription drug coverage. The report, prepared by the House Committee on Government Reform, provides an analysis of prescription drug costs in Millender-McDonald's congressional district. Millender-McDonald said the report indicated that the district's seniors pay more for drugs than HMOs or the federal government. Millender-McDonald said, "The findings of my report show an outrageous trend on behalf of drug companies to indiscriminately charge seniors in my district too much for their medications" (Millender-McDonald release, 5/24).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.