HMOs Question 2% Increase in 2003 Medicare+Choice Rates
HMOs that participate in Medicare+Choice will receive a 2% increase in reimbursement rates for 2003, but according to health plans, the boost "will be insufficient to deal with rising health care costs," the Washington Post reports (Washington Post, 1/18). In a "45-Day Notice for 2003 M+C Rates" issued this week, CMS announced that 2003 Medicare+Choice reimbursement rates "for all counties will reflect the minimum 2% update" required under federal law. The agency also announced "no changes in payment methodology" or the "risk adjustment methodology" for 2003. In addition, CMS plans to "continue paying M+C organizations on a fee-for-service basis for covered clinical trial items and services provided to their members." The 2003 Medicare+Choice reimbursement rates will take effect March 1 (CMS Web site). Karen Ignagni, president of the American Association of Health Plans, predicted that many HMOs, which "say the increase is not nearly enough," will withdraw from Medicare+Choice next year. "At this juncture, only Congress and the administration, working on a bipartisan basis, can save this program for America's seniors and disabled beneficiaries," she said (Washington Post, 1/18).