Ways and Means Committee Considers Future of Medicare Advantage
Friday, July 25, 2014 8:08 AM
On July 24, the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee examined the state of the Medicare Advantage (MA) program, which has undergone changes as a new payment benchmark methodology and other policies from the Affordable Care Act are phased in.
Republicans claim the cuts will jeopardize the program, leaving seniors without plans, looking for a new doctor or paying more out of their pocket for care. The cuts have been "masked and delayed" by an $8 billion bonus program that has cushioned plans so far, Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-Texas) stated. Democrats, meanwhile, accused the GOP of trying to frighten seniors and touted Administration figures on surging MA enrollment, stable premiums and better quality results.
Witnesses at the meeting testified that plans will find it harder to fund coordinated care, particularly for beneficiaries with chronic conditions or those vulnerable beneficiaries eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid. That could mean more hospital stays and less follow-up care, they stated, and potentially higher costs down the road for Medicare and Medicaid, which is funded by the federal government and state governments.
Witnesses also stated that MA risk adjustment needs to be refined, both for regular payments and for bonuses. Plans that care for sick patients are penalized, they noted, and there is little incentive to enroll beneficiaries with multiple chronic conditions.
Health Policy Source has provided a summary with additional details. To read written testimony from the hearing, see http://waysandmeans.house.gov/calendar/eventsingle.aspx?EventID=388348.