Payment Cuts to Medicare Advantage Plans Win Support
The "extra spending" on reimbursements to private Medicare Advantage plans compared with payments to traditional Medicare for equivalent benefits -- "more than $50 billion over the next five years -- makes an already financially unstable Medicare program more expensive," a Washington Post editorial states, adding, "It also unfairly raises premium costs for all seniors, who subsidize the extra benefits of those who sign up for managed care plans."
The editorial expresses support for a bill passed by the House earlier this month that would "phase out the excess payments" to MA plans and "devote the savings" to SCHIP and other health care programs. According to the editorial, critics maintain that MA plans "lower overall health care spending by providing more preventive care" and "provide important and otherwise unaffordable benefits to low-income seniors" and that the legislation would "drive the plans out of existence."
The editorial states, "We agree that private plans can play an important and useful role in delivering good medical care to seniors," but, "if the problem is providing extra help to low-income seniors, there are more efficient means of doing so than overpaying" MA plans. The editorial concludes, "And we don't understand why the level playing field the private plans once so avidly sought is now not good enough" (Washington Post, 8/21).