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CMC Heads to Capitol Hill to Present Exclusive Polling Data and Expert Insights on Medicare Advantage

MARCH 25, 2016

This week, the Coalition for Medicare Choices headed to Capitol Hill to host a congressional briefing focused on the value of care coordination and Medicare Advantage to America’s seniors. The event was well-attended by patient advocates, Hill staff, and those in public policy eager to hear the perspectives of Medicare Advantage Care Coordination (MACC) Task Force members.

Kyle Dropp, Executive Director of Polling and Data at Morning Consult, kicked off the briefing by reviewing new first-of-its-kind polling data from a recent poll of more than 10,000 registered voters. Dropp shared that overall, 9 in 10 seniors on Medicare Advantage are satisfied with their plan and the top reason for choosing a Medicare Advantage plan was because of overall cost (19%). When it comes to reducing funding for Medicare Advantage, Dropp highlighted that 70% of seniors said cuts would worsen their benefits, while 65% say access to doctors will get worse if cuts are made.

Additional polling data also found that seniors are watching their elected representatives closely and six in ten voters are more likely to vote for a member of Congress who takes action to stop cuts to the Medicare Advantage program. Results from a nationwide sample of all voters revealed similar preferences for protecting funding for Medicare Advantage programs.

Carol_SpeakingAfter the polling data presentation, moderator Mara McDermott, Vice President of Federal Affairs for CAPG, asked CMC Member and Medicare Advantage beneficiary Carol Berman, 81, of West Palm Beach, Florida to react to the results. She highlighted the high satisfaction in quality of care expressed by beneficiaries, saying “I thought that was absolutely fantastic… Can you imagine getting that kind of a rating at 94%?” Berman went on to share her insights into the benefits offered by some Medicare Advantage plans, including the silver sneakers program and transportation assistance to medical appointments.

Panelist3Carol’s story was followed by a lively discussion of expert members of the Medicare Advantage Care Coordination (MACC) Task Force. Tonya Saffer, Senior Health Policy Director of National Kidney Foundation noted the importance of early detection for kidney disease and the fact that Medicare Advantage plans have shown a growing interest in addressing undiagnosed kidney disease. Mark Gibbons, Director of Programs and Operations at Caregiver Action Network, echoed the need for early detection of diseases for seniors, noting, “Medicare Advantage has allowed access… which is also going to allow people on MA to get these early detection tests.”

Thair Phillips, President/CEO of RetireSafe and Cheri Lattimer, Executive Director of Case Management Society of America, rounded out the panel with their perspectives on the program. “From a patient’s point of view, care coordination is going into your doctor with an ailment and not having the doctor just focus on the symptoms of that particular problem, but step back and look at you as a whole person,” Phillips told the audience. Lattimer built on the value of care coordination programs offered by many Medicare Advantage programs, sharing that as a case manager, “we can take care of all the clinical symptoms… but 50% of what actually affects hospital readmissions – poor care, miscommunication – are all the non-clinical aspects.”

Across the panel, experts agreed that Medicare Advantage plans offer valuable programs for improving care coordination for America’s seniors and helping them live as healthy lives as possible. As CMC Member Carol Berman said, “I strongly believe that I would not be here sitting and talking to you had I not been on the Medicare Advantage plan for 16 years.”