MEDICARE+CHOICE: House Bill Would Adjust Payments
A new House bill, prompted by insurance industry officials' contention that Medicare+Choice is underfunded, could keep insurers from leaving the program and possibly entice some to return, the Baton Rouge Advocate reports. The bill, HR 4951, would increase Medicare+Choice funding, change some of the program's funding formulas and allow companies until November to decide if they want to retain cutbacks they announced in July. The bill, which the House Commerce Committee unveiled last week, also would reduce financial report requirements for insurers and rules on emergency room admissions in some states. Co-sponsor Rep. Richard Baker (R-La.) said the bill would restore Medicare+Choice to "solid, stable financial ground," adding that it "will help ensure that beneficiaries experience no disruption in service and no reduction in benefits." Some insurers, who have complained about low reimbursement rates, expressed interest in the bill. George Renaudin, vice president of Louisiana's largest managed care provider, Ochsner Health Plan, said, "I would have to see how the bill is implemented by federal regulators but it would certainly be something we would have to evaluate." He added that the bill "could bring some stabilization back to the program." A Baker spokesperson said that the bill will be introduced after Congress' August recess and predicted it "should be highly supported" (Gautreau, 7/29).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.