Medicare Advantage payment changes stir anger


The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' recent reversal of proposed payment cuts to Medicare Advantage plans has yet to gain a ton of supporters, reports The Washington Post.

Last week, CMS announced insurers will see a 0.4 percent boost--an increase slightly higher than what insurers requested. However,  insurance analysts still predict lower payments to private Medicare Advantage plans in 2015. Some insurers also still expect to see Medicare Advantage rates drop next year, including Aetna and Humana.

Meanwhile, supporters criticized the Obama administration for easing up on the Medicare Advantage rate cuts, the Post noted.

Adding to the displeasure, three Southern Republican governors on Tuesday wrote a letter blasting CMS' payment rate announcement as "little more than political theater," the Associated Press reported. Govs. Rick Scott of Florida, Rick Perry of Texas and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana said the Medicare payment changes will harm seniors.

What's more, Medicare Advantage cuts helped fund the Affordable Care Act's coverage expansion, which is causing concerns about the government's overall healthcare efforts. "If the government has this much trouble trimming a useless subsidy for the insurance industry, it will have a hard time being frugal when it comes to health spending that actually matters," Bloomberg News editors wrote late last week.

Despite rate cuts, Medicare Advantage enrollment continues to grow, showing a 9 percent increase each year since the Medicare cuts began in 2012. 

"We believe that plans will continue their strong participation in the Medicare Advantage program in 2015 and beneficiaries will continue to have access to a wide array of high quality and affordable Medicare health and drug plans," Jonathan Blum, CMS principal deputy administrator, said last week in a statement, FierceHealthPayer previously reported.

For more
- here's the Washington Post article
- check out the Associated Press piece
- read the Bloomberg News article

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