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Cárdenas, Guthrie, Blumenauer, Kelly Lead Bipartisan Effort to Secure Medicare Advantage

Feb 6, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressmen Tony Cárdenas (CA-29) Brett Guthrie (KY-02), Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), and Mike Kelly (PA-16) this week wrote to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to urge continued support for the Medicare Advantage program, which provides care to more than 22 million people.

“Millions of seniors depend on Medicare Advantage plans to provide comprehensive, affordable health care as they age,” wrote Cárdenas, Guthrie, Blumenauer, and Kelly. “Medicare Advantage offers affordable, high-quality 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 program also serves vulnerable and underserved populations that have special needs and chronic conditions and provides supports for seniors at critical times of their life.”

See below for the full text of the letter, which was signed by 338 members of the House. Click here to view the signed letter.

February 5, 2020

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 40 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 2021, we urge you to ensure that the Medicare Advantage program will continue to offer affordable, high-quality, patient-centered coverage options for the diverse populations the program serves, including beneficiaries with End Stage Renal Disease who for the first time will be able to choose a Medicare Advantage plan.

Millions of seniors depend on Medicare Advantage plans to provide comprehensive, affordable health care as they age. In 2020, average premiums are expected to decline by 14 percent to their lowest point in the last 13 years while enrollment is projected to increase to more than 24 millionFurther, the average number of plan choices has continued to increase; in 2020, 93 percent of individuals on Medicare have access to a Medicare Advantage plan that includes prescription drug coverage for no additional premium.

Medicare Advantage offers affordable, high-quality 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 program also serves vulnerable and underserved populations that have special needs and chronic conditions and provides supports for seniors at critical times of their life.  Moreover, as a result of greater flexibility in plan benefit offerings, next year nearly 14 million enrollees will have access to additional telehealth benefits, and an estimated 2.6 million beneficiaries will have access to more supplemental benefits, including adult day care services and in-home support services to help them manage their health. In addition, up to 1.2 million enrollees will have access to new benefits that address social barriers to accessing care such as food assistance, transportation, and home modifications.

For plan year 2021, we urge the Administration to continue its efforts to promote flexibility and innovation, incentivize quality improvements, and support value-based arrangements with health care providers.  It will be important to 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, such as expanding telehealth services for underserved and rural communities, 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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