Proposed Changes to Medicare Advantage Payment Policies Threaten Care for Seniors

Each February, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) releases its Advance Notice for the following year, proposing the rates and parameters for the Medicare Advantage (MA) and Part D Prescription Drug programs, similar to a proposed rule. This year’s notice, released on February 19, 2016, contained several provisions that could have a negative impact on the nearly 18 million seniors served by these plans. The final notice is due to be released on April 4.

Enrollment in Medicare Advantage has continued to increase, covering more than 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries in 2016, despite projections that enrollment would shrink, particularly given the payment reductions scheduled under the Affordable Care Act. The fact that enrollment has continued to increase despite these cuts is a testament to private insurers’ ability to provide high value care and satisfy their beneficiaries, unlike the traditional fee-for-service Medicare model. But these plans can only sustain so much; continued cuts and flawed policy changes will eventually result in benefit reductions, harming the individuals most at risk.

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