02.20.15

SCHUMER PUSHES FEDS TO PRESERVE MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PROGRAM THAT PROVIDES 16 MILLION SENIORS AND INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES WITH HIGH-QUALITY HEALTH PLAN CHOICES AND BENEFITS

Schumer Leads Group of 53 Senators in His Push to Protect Medicare Advantage Beneficiaries From Disruptive Changes in 2016; Over 1 Million Enrollees in New York


Regulatory Changes That Affect the Program’s Funding Year After Year Create Confusion, Disruption Among Beneficiaries who are Looking for Consistency and Predictability

 

Schumer: We Can Protect Seniors Who Rely on Quality Medicare Advantage Plans by Maintaining Current Payment Levels & Keeping Medicare Advantage Program Strong

Today, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that he is pushing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a federal agency within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), to preserve the high-quality health plan choices and benefits that 16 million constituents, including seniors and individuals with disabilities, receive through the Medicare Advantage (MA) program. This includes over 1 million enrollees in New York alone and represents approximately 30 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries. Schumer explained that regulatory changes that often impact the program’s funding create disruption and confusion among beneficiaries who are looking for consistency in their health plan. Beneficiaries receive a range of innovative services, including preventive care, in-home health assessments, disease management services for those with chronic conditions, and coordinated care that provides a seamless delivery of health care services overall. Schumer, along with Senator Crapo, are leading a group of 53 Senators, the largest group ever, to urge CMS to minimize disruptions for beneficiaries enrolled in the MA program by maintaining payment levels and providing a stable policy environment for 2016. 

“The seniors and individuals-with-disabilities who need health plan consistency the most should not have to worry that their Medicare Advantage plan will be disrupted come 2016. That is why I am pushing the federal government to preserve these high-quality health plans for those who need it most, and those who rely on its consistency and predictability. No senior or disabled person should have to think twice about visiting the doctor because their plan could be in flux,” said Schumer. “I am urging CMS Administrator Tavenner to provide stability to the MA program and protect enrollees from disruptive changes in 2016 that could mean the difference between sickness and health.”

Schumer explained that regulatory policy changes made year after year that affect the program's funding are creating disruption among beneficiaries who are looking for predictability. Schumer said this inconsistency can damage a program that offers value for beneficiaries if it is not stable through 2016. Schumer and this group of 53 senators said such disruptions threaten to impede health plans from driving the innovation that has resulted in better coordinated care and improved outcomes for beneficiaries who enroll in Medicare Advantage. These plans are particularly important for low-income beneficiaries who are financially vulnerable, as well as rural and minority populations who are seeing fewer plan choices. 

Dear Administrator Tavenner:

We are writing in advance of the CY2016 45-Day Notice for Medicare Advantage (MA) in order to renew our commitment to preserving the high quality health plan choices and benefits that our constituents receive through the MA program.  We urge you to minimize disruptions for beneficiaries enrolled in the MA program by maintaining payment levels and providing a stable policy environment for 2016. 

More than 16 million seniors and individuals with disabilities - accounting for approximately 30 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries - are currently enrolled in MA plans, which typically offer a range of innovative services and coordinated benefits. We support the MA plans offered today for many reasons, including their emphasis on preventive care beginning with in-home health assessments, the systems of coordinated care they have developed to provide for the seamless delivery of health care services, and disease management services they provide for those with chronic conditions.

Regulatory policy changes that affect the program's funding, year after year, are creating disruption and confusion among beneficiaries who are looking for consistency and predictability and can damage a program that offers value for beneficiaries.  This is particularly true for low-income beneficiaries who are financially vulnerable, as well as rural and minority populations who are seeing fewer plan choices.  Furthermore, such disruptions threaten to impede health plans from driving the innovation that has resulted in better coordinated care and improved outcomes for beneficiaries who enroll in Medicare Advantage. 

We ask that you carefully consider how beneficiaries would be impacted by further cuts to the MA program.  At a time of broad agreement on the need to shift U.S. health care to focus on care coordination, quality, and value-based payments, it would be counterproductive to jeopardize a program that is already driven by and aligned toward those goals. We urge you to provide needed stability to the MA program that will protect MA enrollees from disruptive changes in 2016. 

Sincerely,

Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator

The names of the 53 Senators who signed this letter appear below:

Alexander

Ayotte

Bennet

Blunt

Boozman

Burr

Cantwell

Capito

Casey

Cassidy

Coats

Cochran

Collins

Cornyn

Cotton

Crapo

Daines

Donnelly

Enzi

Ernst

Gardner

Gillibrand

Graham

Grassley

Heinrich

Heitkamp

Heller

Hoeven

Inhofe

Isakson

King

Kirk

Klobuchar

Lankford

Manchin

Merkley

Nelson

Paul

Peters

Portman

Risch

Roberts

Rounds

Rubio

Schumer

Scott

Shaheen

Tester

Tillis

Thune

Udall

Vitter

Wicker

 

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