Insurer Protests Proposed Cut to Medicare Plans
BlueCross BlueShield Association officials at a press briefing on Tuesday said that proposed federal cuts to the Medicare Advantage program could lead to sharp increases in beneficiaries' premiums, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Congress has approved $13 billion in cuts to the program starting this year. In addition, legislators are considering further cuts to the program as they work to balance spending priorities (Sherman, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/28).
A Congressional Budget Office report released this week estimated that Medicare could save about $65 billion over 10 years by equalizing payments to Medicare Advantage plans and fee-for-service providers.
BCBS officials said that cuts to the program could lead to negative consequences for seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, including premium increases, significant benefit reductions and perhaps a total loss of their plans.
BCBS President Scott Serota said additional cuts "would have devastating effects for MA members who are very satisfied with their MA plans and overwhelmingly want Congress to work to maintain adequate funding."
According to a poll released by BCBS, 97% of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries "believe it is important for Congress to work to maintain adequate funding for the MA program."
BCBS officials also said the cuts would undermine "coordinated care" programs, which make care more efficient and effective by providing "the right care at the right time in the right place."
Coordinated care programs also help seniors maintain quality preventive and post-operative care, officials said.
Alissa Fox, BCBS vice president for policy, said cuts to the program could result in many seniors dropping out of plans, as happened in the late 1990s when payments decreased (Reichard, CQ HealthBeat, 2/27). Fox said, "Further cuts to the program would have absolutely disastrous consequences." About 8.3 million U.S. residents are enrolled in the Medicare Advantage plans (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 2/28).