Rep. Axne Joins Bipartisan Effort to Protect Medicare Advantage

February 11, 2019
Press Release
Medicare Advantage Program covers services not provided by traditional Medicare

WASHINGTON – U.S. Representative Cindy Axne (IA-03) joined a bipartisan effort to protect the Medicare Advantage program to ensure Iowa seniors have access to comprehensive, affordable health care as they age. In a letter sent to Seema Verma, the Administrator of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), the Congressional Members urged the Administration to ensure Medicare Advantage program will continue to offer affordable, quality care as they consider updates to the program for 2020.

Over 100,000 Iowa seniors rely on the Medicare Advantage program for services not provided by traditional Medicare including 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.

“The Medicare Advantage program provides flexibility in care, allowing seniors to receive the tailored services they need and prevents taxpayers from paying for unnecessary services,” said Rep. Axne. “Protecting this program for our seniors is not only the right thing to do, but saves us money and helps preserve Medicare for future generations.”  

In addition to Congresswoman Axne, the letter was signed by U.S. Representatives Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Tony Cardenas (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Mike Kelly (R-PA) and over 297 members of the House.

Full text of the letter is available below:

 

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. In 2019, average premiums decreased by an estimated 6 percent while enrollment is projected to increase by almost 12 percent. 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.

Sincerely,

 

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