April 7, 2014
“Today’s announcement by CMS to, once again, preserve government overpayments to private insurers in Medicare Advantage is bad policy and bad economics for the Medicare program. These subsidies were supposed to be gradually trimmed in order to expand benefits and improve the quality of care for all seniors in Medicare. However, each year the insurance lobby threatens to cancel coverage or charge more to seniors in MA plans rather than accept a reduction in their overpayments or reimbursement rates.
For many years, private insurance companies have claimed they can provide better coverage to seniors at a lower cost. The reality proves otherwise. Since 2003, all seniors in Medicare (including those not even enrolled in Medicare Advantage) have paid higher premiums to help fund the billions in government overpayments to private Medicare Advantage insurance companies. Over the years, as much as 14% more per beneficiary has been paid to MA plans than is paid to cover individuals enrolled in traditional Medicare. It’s a wasteful federal boondoggle that was rightfully corrected by passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2010. Additionally, thanks to the ACA, growth in health care costs have been decreasing which means that reimbursement rates also go down. As reimbursement rates have decreased, MA plan enrollment has increased.
Let’s be clear, contrary to the health insurance industry’s massive lobbying campaign claims, Medicare doesn’t make the decision about cuts to seniors’ MA coverage, including increasing premiums or reducing access to doctors. That decision rests squarely in the board rooms of the nation’s private insurance industry, which is unwilling to give up a penny of their government giveaway in favor of continued threats of diminished coverage and higher premiums for seniors.
This annual drama with private insurers in Medicare proves, once again, that when private MA plans are unwilling to compete on a level playing field with traditional Medicare, seniors will ultimately pay the price. So much for providing better coverage for less.”…Max Richtman, NCPSSM President/CEO
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