Reimbursement Rates for Medicare Advantage Plans To Increase by 4.8% in 2006, CMS Announces
Reimbursement rates for Medicare Advantage plans will increase by 4.8% in 2006, compared with 6.6% in 2005 and 10.6% in 2004, CMS announced on Monday, CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat, 4/4).
Between 1999 and 2003, health insurers, which had received average annual reimbursement rate increases of 3.2% for Medicare managed care plans, dropped coverage for more than two million beneficiaries enrolled in such plans because they said that the rates did not cover costs. However, the Medicare law enacted in 2003 increased reimbursement rates for Medicare managed care plans.
Mohit Ghose, a spokesperson for America's Health Insurance Plans, said of the announcement on Monday, "This continues the work done by Congress in the Medicare Modernization Act" (Bloomberg/Los Angeles Times, 3/5).
In other Medicare news, CMS officials might remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards to help prevent identity theft, the AP/San Jose Mercury News reports. According to CMS spokesperson Gary Karr, agency officials have held discussions on the issue in recent years but have not established a formal working group.
Karr said, "We're considering whether there are other ways to identify people ... but whether we could, and how we would go about changing it for everyone, has not been determined. There would be a huge systems change that you would have to undertake, and you'd have to figure out what is the cost and if that cost is worth it." He added that CMS officials must ensure that "the right people who are supposed to get benefits will get them" if the agency removes Social Security numbers from Medicare cards.
Consumers Union in a June 2004 letter asked CMS to remove Social Security numbers from Medicare cards and mail sent to beneficiaries. "It just seems ridiculous to me that at a time when some health care insurers were phasing them out, that the federal government would be using these numbers" on Medicare cards, Consumers Union spokesperson Michael McCauly said (AP/San Jose Mercury News, 4/5).