Cassidy, Kennedy Urge Trump Administration to Strengthen Medicare Advantage Program
WASHINGTON—U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), and John Kennedy (R-LA) joined many of their Senate colleagues in urging the Trump Administration to stabilize the Medicare Advantage program, which provides quality health care to 21 million seniors and individuals with disabilities.
“Millions of our constituents depend on Medicare Advantage for quality, patient-centered health care,” the senators wrote to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma. “Beneficiary enthusiasm for the program remains strong, with more than one in three seniors enrolled. … For plan year 2020, we encourage the Administration to implement policies that promote innovation, provide predictable funding to support long-term, value-based arrangements and ensure that any substantive changes include sufficient time for thorough evaluation and stakeholder engagement.”
Joining Cassidy and Kennedy in sending the letter are Senators Cortez Masto (D-NV), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Johnny Isakson (R-GA), John Cornyn (R-TX), Kyrsten Sinema (D-AZ), James Inhofe (R-OK), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Doug Jones (D-AL), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), James Risch (R-ID), Pat Roberts (R-KS), Jeffrey Merkley (D-OR), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), John Boozman (R-AR), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Angus King (I-ME), Brian Schatz (D-HI), John Barrasso (R-WY), Jon Tester (D-MT), John Hoeven (R-ND), Mark Warner (D-VA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Todd Young (R-IN), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Bob Casey (D-PA), Rob Portman (R-OH), Cory Gardner (R-CO), Gary Peters (D-MI), Tina Smith (D-MN), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-MS), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Joe Manchin (D-WV), Susan Collins (R-ME), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Rand Paul (R-KY), Roger Wicker (R-MS), Thomas Carper (D-DE), Deb Fischer (R-NE), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ben Sasse (R-NE), Christopher Murphy (D-CT), Tom Cotton (R-AR), David Perdue (R-GA), John Thune (R-SD), Shelley Capito (R-WV), Steve Daines (R-MT), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Tim Scott (R-SC), Michael Rounds (R-SD), Dan Sullivan (R-AK), Joni Ernst (R-IA), James Lankford (R-OK), Mitt Romney (R-UT), Richard Burr (R-NC), Michael Enzi (R-WY), Tom Udall (D-NM), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Martha McSally (R-AZ), Josh Hawley (R-MO), Mike Braun (R-IN), Jacky Rosen (D-NV), and Kevin Cramer (R-ND).
The full text of the senators’ letter is below.
Dear Administrator Verma:
We write to express our strong support for Medicare Advantage and the high-quality care it provides to more than 21 million seniors and individuals with disabilities. We appreciate the Administration’s recognition of the value of Medicare Advantage and its work to encourage innovation for these private health plans. As annual updates are considered for 2020, we ask you to continue to strengthen and grow this proven part of the Medicare program by proposing policies that provide stability and predictability.
Millions of our constituents depend on Medicare Advantage for quality, patient-centered health care. Beneficiary enthusiasm for the program remains strong, with more than one in three seniors enrolled. This is due, in part, to private plans’ ability to leverage best practices in care delivery, use robust data analytics, and implement proven value-based care and care management models. Medicare Advantage enrollees report a 91 percent satisfaction rate, with 74 percent of enrollees in plans rated four Stars and above.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently announced average Medicare Advantage premiums are estimated to decrease by six percent in 2019. Meanwhile, beneficiary enrollment has increased by eight percent in the past year and 79 percent since 2010, a testament to the affordability, high-quality care coordination, disease management and community-based programs, and supplemental benefits such as vision and dental coverage provided by Medicare Advantage plans. Further, bipartisan efforts are helping to reduce beneficiary costs by increasing the use of telemedicine, promoting value-based insurance design, and expanding benefits that address social determinants of health by including transportation, nutrition, and other non-medical needs that enhance quality of life.
For plan year 2020, we encourage the Administration to implement policies that promote innovation, provide predictable funding to support long-term, value-based arrangements, and ensure that any substantive changes include sufficient time for thorough evaluation and stakeholder engagement.
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