Letter: School Retirees Ask Biden and CMS to Preserve Medicare Advantage

March 15, 2023

Originally published in Lootpress

CHARLESTON, WV (LOOTPRESS) – Leaders of the West Virginia Association of Retired School Employees are imploring President Joe Biden and others in his administration to maintain support for Medicare Advantage, a program that many retirees depend on for health care benefits beyond those available through traditional Medicare.

“As retired educators and school employees, we appreciate the Biden Administration’s commitment to making health care more affordable and accessible, particularly for seniors and aging communities,” Charmel Radcliff, president of the WVARSE writes in a letter to Biden and to Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS).

Further, she writes, that her organization was especially pleased to hear Biden say during his State of the Union address that he would not make any cuts to Medicare, but she expressed concern that the CMS 2024 Medicare Advantage and Part D Advance Notice indicates that such cuts could come.

“As written, the proposed Medicare Advantage plan payments for next year could result in billions of dollars in cuts to Medicare Advantage,” Radcliff writes. “Any decreases in payments to plans could mean fewer benefits or higher premiums for more than 30 million Americans, including many retired school employees across West Virginia.”

In her letter, she cites one estimate (Avalere) that the proposed cuts could amount to a decrease of $540 in benefits per member per year.

In West Virginia, 189,513 people are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, which typically go beyond traditional Medicare to provide enrollees with additional benefits, such as vision, dental and hearing coverage, as well as preventive screenings and testing, expanded access to telehealth, and exercise classes at affordable prices.

“It should come as no surprise that enrollees are very satisfied with their Medicare Advantage plans,” Radcliff writes. “In fact, senior voters are overwhelmingly satisfied with Medicare Advantage, and four in five seniors believe it is important for the federal government to protect Medicare Advantage funding. We hear it from our members all the time – Medicare Advantage provides great, accessible health care for an affordable price.”

In her letter, Radcliff contends that protecting Medicare Advantage must be part of the Biden administration’s commitment to protecting Medicare from cuts. Copies of her letter are going to members of West Virginia’s congressional delegation. Both of West Virginia’s senators, Democrat Joe Manchin and Republican Shelley Moore Capito, have joined most members of the U.S. Senate in signing onto a bipartisan letter urging preservation of funding for Medicare Advantage.