Johnson to Push Medicare+Choice Payment Hike This Year
House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair Nancy Johnson (R-Conn.) said yesterday that she plans to push legislation through Congress by the end of the current session that would increase payments to Medicare+Choice plans, CongressDaily/AM reports. Speaking before the annual Medicare/Medicaid meeting of the American Association of Health Plans, she said, "It is very, very important to try to do this this year." She added that many Democrats are beginning to "realiz[e]" that more funding is needed to "shore up" the managed care program. "[Democrats have] had more experience with their plans, and they've seen the absurdity of what we've been doing -- giving a 2% increase year after year when health costs are going up 6% and 8% and now 10%," Johnson said. Insurers that have indicated they will exit the Medicare+Choice program might stay if "payments can be changed," she added. Any reform or reimbursement "relief" is likely to be a separate measure and not part of the contractor reform package the Ways and Means Committee passed last week, CongressDaily/AM reports. Johnson also said she plans to "delay and possibly eliminate" the "lock-in rule" scheduled to take effect next year that would limit beneficiaries to one plan switch per calendar year. CongressDaily/AM reports that many health plans are "unhappy" with the idea that "unhappy patients" could be "stuck" in their plans (Rovner, CongressDaily/AM, 10/16).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.