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2 Million Voices & Growing to Protect Medicare Advantage

Overwhelming Bipartisan Majorities in Senate and House Sign Letters Urging CMS to Protect Seniors in Medicare Advantage

FEBRUARY 17, 2016

Bipartisan support for Medicare Advantage builds as more than 360 lawmakers call on Washington to protect seniors

Washington, D.C. – As CMS prepares to release preliminary Medicare Advantage payment policies on Friday, Feb. 19, a bipartisan group of more than 360 members of Congress sent letters today urging the Medicare agency to protect nearly 17 million seniors who choose these plans for quality, affordable care. This is the first time an overwhelming majority of Congressional members have weighed in before the Medicare Advantage 45-Day Notice, underscoring the bipartisan support for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries and their coverage.

The bipartisan letters—spearheaded by Sen. Mike Crapo (R-ID) and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) in the Senate and Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY) and Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-FL) in the House—received unprecedented support from members of Congress, exceeding the number of signatures from last year by 8 on the Senate letter and 76 on the House letter.

The bipartisan Senate letter was signed by 61 senators. Read highlights below:

  • “We write in advance of the CY2017 45-Day Notice for Medicare Advantage to reiterate our strong support for preserving the high quality health plan options, benefits and services that our constituents depend on through Medicare Advantage. We recognize the tremendous value these programs bring to beneficiaries, and ask that you maintain payment levels and avoid policy proposals that have the potential to disrupt care.”
  • “Today, 17 million seniors and individuals with disabilities are enrolled in Medicare Advantage, which offers innovative and coordinated care delivery systems. Medicare Advantage is of particular importance to beneficiaries with chronic conditions, as plans have the flexibility to offer in-home health clinical visits as well as disease management programs not always available in traditional Medicare. This individualized, comprehensive care results in improved health outcomes and aligns with our shared focus on value-based payment.”
  • “Annual payment and policy changes create disruption and confusion among beneficiaries, especially in low-income, rural and minority populations. Additional cuts have the potential to stifle innovation and further impede beneficiary access to high quality health care.”
  • “Medicare Advantage offers individuals affordable, patient-centered health care. We ask that any proposed payment or policy changes promote stability and preserve plan options for the millions of beneficiaries enrolled in the program.”

The bipartisan House letter was signed by 308 members of the House. Read highlights below:

  • “[W]e ask that you establish payment and regulatory policies for 2017 that avoid further payment cuts to the program, maintain stable coverage options for beneficiaries, and support innovations that are crucial to meeting the health care needs of 17 million seniors and individuals with disabilities.”
  • “ Every day we hear from seniors in our districts who benefit significantly from the innovative, coordinated care they receive through their Medicare Advantage plan. These personal stories reinforce seniors’ overwhelming satisfaction with the program, their coverage, and the services their plans provide.”
  • “Medicare Advantage plans have a long history of focusing on prevention and early detection of chronic diseases as part of a patient-centered approach to care. MA’s clinical models, such as in-home primary care visits, result in improved outcomes…”
  • “Medicare Advantage plans also provide a critical health care safety net for millions of beneficiaries with low incomes or complex health needs… To address the needs of these financially vulnerable individuals—as well as those who have multiple chronic conditions or complex needs—Medicare Advantage plans have developed specific programs to help support enrollees…”
  • “Looking to the future, we believe it is critically important to preserve the Medicare Advantage program as a model for modernizing the Medicare program as a whole.”

AHIP’s Coalition for Medicare Choices (CMC) recently launched a digital advertising campaign and a coast-to-coast mobilization of its 2 million Medicare Advantage beneficiaries, who are contacting their elected representatives and urging Washington to protect their coverage from further cuts. Heading into the November election, seniors are making this a priority voting issue.

Preliminary 2017 Medicare Advantage payment policies are expected to be announced by CMS on Feb. 19, 2016, with final rates expected on April 4, 2016. Seniors will see the impact of any new payment cuts in late October 2016, when they begin enrolling in their 2017 Medicare Advantage coverage.

The CMC is a national grassroots organization of more than 2 million Medicare Advantage beneficiaries making their voices heard from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico and 32 partner organizations representing employers, providers, and leading medical societies working to advance best practices in care coordination. Since the CMC’s founding in 1999, its members have made millions of contacts with members of Congress to protect their benefits.