Insurers To Fight Proposed Medicare Advantage Pay Cut
America's Health Insurance Plans on Wednesday announced plans to launch an advertising campaign that seeks to prevent a proposed reduction in reimbursements to private Medicare Advantage plans, Roll Call reports (Ackley, Roll Call, 7/25).
House Democrats have proposed the reduction as part of a bill that would reauthorize and expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program by $50 billion over five years. Reimbursements to MA plans are an estimated 12% higher than payments to the traditional Medicare program for equivalent benefits (California Healthline, 7/24).
AHIP spokesperson Mohit Ghose said, "AHIP and our member companies have been fully supportive of funding the SCHIP program to make sure we are providing coverage for as many uninsured children as possible, but we do not believe that should happen at the expense of 8.5 million seniors." He added, "We have always said that this is false choice being presented to Congress where members are being asked to pit the needs of children against the needs of seniors."
Ghose did not discuss the cost of the ad campaign but said, "It is a substantial effort so that members of Congress will hear from their constituents."
Earlier this week, the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care launched a television and print ad campaign that also seeks to prevent the proposed reduction in reimbursements to MA plans. Other groups, such as the American Medical Association and AARP, launched a joint ad campaign in support of an expansion of SCHIP (Roll Call, 7/25).
MA plans "are often a better alternative to basic Medicare, especially for the many beneficiaries who have a chronic disease or who don't have a lot of income," former acting CMS Administrator Leslie Norwalk writes in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece.
The "implication" that MA plan "sponsors line their pockets with federal funds," with Medicare beneficiaries "duped into signing up for the program," is "an incendiary charge and one that the evidence disproves," according to Norwalk.
Norwalk writes that MA plans have "taken a lead in developing case management programs for chronic diseases and integrating them into their overall approach to care," adding that Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in the plans "are more likely to get preventive care -- immunizations, cancer screening and diabetes management." Traditional Medicare "does not give health care providers an incentive to coordinate patient care after a specific treatment has run its course," Norwalk writes. She concludes that the U.S. cannot "afford to take away affordable health care coverage for people in need" and cannot "afford to step back from a long-range investment in better health care delivery" (Norwalk, Wall Street Journal, 7/25).