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Guthrie, Cárdenas, Blumenauer, Kelly Lead Bipartisan Effort to Secure Medicare Advantage

Washington, February 6, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressmen Brett Guthrie (KY-02), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), and Mike Kelly (PA-16) today wrote to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to urge continued support for the Medicare Advantage program, which provides care to more than 22 million people.

“Millions of seniors depend on Medicare Advantage plans to provide comprehensive, affordable health care as they age,” wrote Guthrie, Cárdenas, Blumenauer, and Kelly. “In 2019, average premiums decreased by an estimated 6 percent while enrollment is projected to increase by almost 12 percent. Medicare Advantage offers care coordination, disease management programs, out-of-pocket spending limits, access to community-based programs, additional supplemental benefits such as vision and dental coverage, and often prescription drug coverage for no additional premium. Moreover, due to recent changes included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, an estimated 1.5 million beneficiaries will have access to expanded supplemental benefits such as adult day care services and in-home and caregiver support services.  We urge the administration to continue its efforts to promote flexibility and innovation [and] support value-based arrangements with health care providers.”

See below for the full text of the letter, which was signed by 302 members of the House. Click here to view the signed letter.

February 6, 2019

 

Seema Verma, MPH

Administrator

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services

Department of Health and Human Services

200 Independence Avenue, SW, Room 445-G

Washington, DC  20201

 

Dear Administrator Verma:

 

We write to express strong bipartisan support for the Medicare Advantage program, which 39.2 percent of eligible Medicare beneficiaries, more than 22 million people, choose to enroll in. We appreciate your ongoing commitment to preserving and strengthening the Medicare Advantage program for current and future Medicare beneficiaries. As the Administration considers updates to the program for plan year 2020, we urge you to ensure that the Medicare Advantage program will continue to offer affordable, high-quality, patient-centered coverage options. 

 

Millions of seniors depend on Medicare Advantage plans to provide comprehensive, affordable health care as they age. The success of the Medicare Advantage program is demonstrated by survey findings showing that more than 90 percent of beneficiaries report high satisfaction with their coverage.[1] In 2019, average premiums decreased by an estimated 6 percent while enrollment is projected to increase by almost 12 percent.[2] Further, the average number of plan choices has increased.

 

Medicare Advantage offers care coordination, disease management programs, out-of-pocket spending limits, access to community-based programs, additional supplemental benefits such as vision and dental coverage, and often prescription drug coverage for no additional premium. Moreover, due to recent changes included in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018, an estimated 1.5 million beneficiaries will have access to expanded supplemental benefits such as adult day care services and in-home and caregiver support services. Other new flexibilities will foster greater competition and reduce costs for beneficiaries and taxpayers.  

 

For plan year 2020, we urge the Administration to continue its efforts to promote flexibility and innovation, support value-based arrangements with health care providers, and ensure that any substantive changes to the Medicare Advantage program provide plan sponsors with sufficient time for thorough evaluation and implementation. We also encourage the Administration to build on the enhanced supplemental benefits that were offered this plan year by providing additional flexibility to help drive the next generation of innovative approaches in Medicare to improve health outcomes, while also maintaining robust beneficiary protections.

 

We look forward to continuing to work with you to further strengthen the Medicare Advantage program and ensure millions of seniors have access to comprehensive, affordable health coverage choices.

 

 

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[1] 2016, March 23. National Poll Results. Morning Consult. http://medicarechoices.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/National-poll-results-.pdf

[2] 2018, September 28. Medicare Advantage Premiums Continue to Decline While Plan Choices and Benefits Increase. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/medicare-advantage-premiums-continue-decline-while-plan-choices-and-benefits-increase-2019