FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Mitchell Clark
Senior Communications Associate
July 24, 2014
Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker Testifies on the Future of Medicare Advantage
— Underscores Positive ACA Reforms and Recommendations to Improve the Program —
Washington, DC– Today, Joe Baker, President of the Medicare Rights Center, testified before the U.S. House Committee on Ways & Means, Subcommittee on Health about the future of the Medicare Advantage (MA) program, the positive impact of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) on MA, and how to further improve MA plans for people with Medicare.
Recent changes to MA advanced by the ACA strengthened the program for current and future enrollees. In addition to improving Medicare’s overall financial outlook, the ACA enhanced MA through added benefits, fairer cost sharing, and improved plan quality.
“While many predicted that ACA changes to the Medicare Advantage payment system would lead to widespread disruption of the plan landscape, we have not seen that among the clients we serve or generally. Today, MA plan enrollment is at an all-time high, with nearly 16 million enrollees—and premium costs, benefit levels, and the availability of plans all remain relatively stable,” said Baker.
Baker also addressed certain recommendations to improve Medicare Advantage. To this, Baker said, “MA remains a good option for some, but not all. Congress must preserve and strengthen the Original Medicare program, while also ensuring the availability of MA options through a well-regulated marketplace. While many argued that ACA changes to MA reimbursement would unduly restrict beneficiary choice, this simply has not happened.”
To the contrary, research confirms what the Medicare Rights Center hears regularly from callers to its national helpline: beneficiaries are hampered by too many plan choices. According to Baker, Congress should address this problem by considering the following:
- Adequately fund State Health Insurance and Assistance Programs (SHIPs)
- Lessen the impact of mid-year changes to MA provider networks
- Pass the Medicare Advantage Participant Bill of Rights Act (H.R. 4998 and S. 2552)
- Enhance transparency through publicly available data and notification, particularly on appeals
- Encourage meaningful variation among plans through standardization and consolidation
- Enhance the quality star ratings program to help consumers make better choices
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Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs, and public policy initiatives.
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