Medicare Chief Pledges More Stringent Oversight of Private Plans
Acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems has promised to make increased oversight of private Medicare Advantage and prescription drug plans a "hallmark of his tenure," but lawmakers and consumer advocates "say it is too early to tell whether the extra oversight is making a difference," The Hill reports.
According to Weems, CMS will increase agency efforts to identify improper marketing practices used by the plans, rather than rely on complaints from Medicare beneficiaries. He said that CMS will monitor the promotional campaigns of the plans, as well as the sales practices of their employees and independent brokers.
In addition, CMS will monitor efforts to enroll Medicare beneficiaries who seek prescription drug plans into more comprehensive and expensive MA plans, Weems said. He said that CMS also will conduct undercover operations in which agency employees will attend promotional meetings held by the plans to determine whether they provide accurate information to Medicare beneficiaries. "We've set up an active surveillance network," he said, adding, "The message is clear: We're watching."
Mohit Ghose, a spokesperson for
America's Health Insurance Plans, said, "We do need to identify the bad actors as soon as possible." However, an aide to Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said that the effects of the efforts by CMS to increase oversight of the plans will remain undetermined until the open enrollment period for the plans closes on Dec. 31 (Young, The Hill, 11/2).