U.S. Senator Pitches New Rules for Medicare Managed Care Offerings
Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is crafting legislation that would ban certain marketing practices used by private Medicare Advantage plans and give states more authority in regulating MA plans, according to a committee aide, CongressDaily reports (Johnson, CongressDaily, 2/11).
The Bush administration has required some private MA plans to call beneficiaries after they sign up for coverage to ensure they understand that they are not enrolled in traditional Medicare. In addition, the administration has developed a "secret shopper" program to monitor sales agents' marketing presentations (California Healthline, 2/7).
The legislation by Baucus would prohibit the use of call centers that try to sell plans to seniors and stop paying sales representatives commissions based on how many participants they sign up. In addition, Baucus seeks to make it illegal for insurance representatives to call themselves Medicare agents.
Acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems is expected to deliver the Bush administration's reaction to the proposals during testimony before the committee on Wednesday.
Health care analysts expect the administration to reject all new regulations to MA plans in the Medicare appropriations bill for next fiscal year. Bush already has issued a veto threat against giving states more regulatory power over MA plans (Congress Daily, 2/11).