Medicare Advantage to be Taxed Unless Congress Acts

medicare advantage HIT tax

24 National & Local Groups Call On Congress To Delay Health Insurance Tax

Seniors & Disabled on Medicare Face $245 Increase in 2018 Premiums

NEWS PROVIDED BY

Better Medicare Alliance

Sep 13, 2017, 17:11 ET

WASHINGTON, Sept. 13, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Twenty-four national, state, and local organizations representing providers, community partners, and beneficiaries sent a letter to U.S. Congress calling for swift action to delay the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) for one year.

Over 20 percent of the $14.3 billion tax on health insurance falls on Medicare Advantage and Part D plans that could result in rising premiums and/or increased cost sharing paid by seniors and other beneficiaries covered by Medicare Advantage and prescription drug coverage under part D.

Though Congress previously suspended the tax for 2017, it is scheduled to be reinstated for 2018.  If Congress does not act to delay the HIT, premiums for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries could increase by $22 billion nationwide in 2018 – an additional $245 per year for each enrollee.

“During a time where there is already so much uncertainty among seniors and disabled Americans about health care, Congress has a small window of opportunity to avoid harmful premium increases on beneficiaries. Higher premiums could put the high-quality, comprehensive health coverage Medicare Advantage provides financially out for reach for millions of Americans living on fixed incomes,” said Allyson Y. Schwartz, Better Medicare Alliance (BMA) President and CEO.

An August 2017 actuarial analysis from Oliver Wyman indicates that beyond 2018, premium increases for senior and disabled Medicare Advantage beneficiaries could grow to more than $300 in 2023.

“Forty percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees live on less than $20,000 per year. Medicare Advantage is an important source of coverage for low-income and racial/ethnic minority beneficiaries. For those who suffer from chronic conditions, barriers to critical primary care and disease management covered by Medicare Advantage could be devastating,” said Dr. Elena Rios, President of the National Hispanic Medical Association.

“With Medicare Advantage, providers can deliver the type of important preventive care and chronic care management once reserved for wealthy individuals at far lower premiums and out-of-pocket costs. As Medicare Advantage practitioners who treat low-income seniors across six states, we know firsthand that many simply will not be able to afford premium increases,” said Dr. Christopher Chen, CEO of ChenMed, a primary care provider for seniors headquartered in Florida.

In 2016, nearly 400 Democrats and Republicans in Congress voted to delay the impact of the HIT for 2017. As a result, the average Medicare Advantage monthly premium is four percent lower this year compared to 2016 when the tax was in effect. The letter calls on Congress to vote to delay the tax, before premiums for 2018 are finalized by the end of the year.

View full letter signed by the following organizations:

Area Agency on Aging Palm Beach / Treasure Coast, Inc. (Florida)
Association for Behavioral Health and Wellness
Better Medicare Alliance
ChenMed (Florida)
Healthcare Leadership Council
Iora Health (Massachusetts)
Meals on Wheels America
National Association of Dental Plans
National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs (NANASP)
National Hispanic Council on Aging
National Hispanic Medical Association
National Medical Association
National Minority Quality Forum
New Jersey State Nurses Association
Northwell Health (New York)
Nurse Practitioner Association New York State
Philadelphia Corporation for Aging
Pittsburgh Business Group on Health
Prevea Health (Wisconsin)
SilverSneakers by Tivity (Tennessee)
SNP Alliance
Summa Health System (Ohio)
Teachers' Retirement System of Kentucky
US Chamber of Commerce

Better Medicare Alliance is the leading coalition on Medicare Advantage.
Our mission is to build a healthy future by advocating for a strong Medicare Advantage. As a community of experts, we're leading the way on health care through research, advocacy, and grassroots organization to create a path forward for innovative, modern health care on behalf of seniors and people with disabilities.
For more information, please visit www.bettermedicarealliance.org.

SOURCE Better Medicare Alliance

Related Links

http://www.bettermedicarealliance.org

2018 Medicare Marketing Guidelines Released by CMS

The 2018 marketing guidelines for Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plans have now been released.

In it, CMS addressed the proposal of cutting out the FMO's when distributing MAPD and Part D drug plans, deciding to leave in the provision where they can make overrides (See 120.4.4).

Also addressed, individual agent websites do not have to be submitted to CMS for specific approval, so long as they are not misleading and they do not specify plans or benefits. They do still, however, have to be approved by the actual plan sponsors (MAPD or Part D companies). (See 100.7)

Source: https://www.cms.gov/Medicare/Health-Plans/ManagedCareMarketing/FinalPartCMarketingGuidelines.html

You can download the PDF here:CY-2018-Medicare-Marketing-Guidelines_Final072017

The text, in its entirety:

<[email protected]@>

Read more 2018 Medicare Marketing Guidelines Released by CMS

New Requirement for MAPD Sales

Do you sell Medicare Advantage plans or Part D plans?

If so, in addition to the AHIP test, there is now another, separate test administered only through CMS and it is required.

This test is on Waste, Fraud, and Abuse, as there always had been in the AHIP test already, but now it's required separately.

Courtesy of United Healthcare, this is a link to the instructions as to how to find and take this simple test:

Click here for the document

 

Medicare Supplement Training

It’s Official: CIGNA and Anthem to Merge

Today it was officially announced that CIGNA and Anthem have struck a deal to become, for now, the largest health insurer in America. The terms of the final deal finally having weathered the storm of a two-month long negotiation, the deal is said to be worth $48 Billion to CIGNA for its acquisition into Anthem.

The independent market is still waiting to hear how this will impact the Medicare Supplement and Medicare Advantage distribution channels. The deal might take two years to get through regulator's approval.

As always, we'll have the specific news when it's available as to how this will impact the individual agent. – Stay tuned!

-CW
See the announcement:

CIGNA Anthem Merger Announcement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Medicare Training for Agents at MedicareAgentTraining.com

2016 Medicare Advantage Numbers Coming

CMS is gearing up to release the 2016 funding levels on February 20th, 2015.

Last year, there was a lot of intense lobbying in Congress after the first set of numbers were released, then they were changed due to these lobbying efforts.

What will happen this year? Speculation ranges from .8% increase, by JP Morgan Chase, up to 2% increase by other industry watchers. Medicare Advantage rates are not just driven by the needed numbers. Moreso, the increase or decrease is driven by politics.

We will see soon…

A good article on the topic:
Lobbying Peaks as Rates for Medicare Advantage Expected

 

From the former debate:

 

Questions over Medicare Advantage Fraud

A report from PublicIntegrity.org details new, and not-so-new investigations into Medicare Advantage potential fraud and abuse around the country. In multiple states, and across providers, Congress is trying to get a handle on the overpayments that are happening with this managed care approach to replacing original Medicare.

See the story here:
Why Medicare Advantage costs taxpayers billions more than it should
Regulators have kept problems secret, and there's no fix in sight

Whistleblower suit says health plan cheated government out of more than $1 billion

 

Forbes Echoes Westfall’s Observation of Medicare Advantage Cuts, and Why

In a recent story by Forbes online, they state:

“The Obama team has made a warm embrace of managed care options when it comes to Obamacare and Medicaid. But for Medicare, they want to deny low-income seniors these options. All of the administration's old arguments on why they resisted these private Medicare plans have been largely mooted, or never materialized.”

The Forbes.com article goes on to site a study that says at least 13% of Medicare Advantage plans expect to be eliminated by 2015. The agent in the Medicare market must strongly consider having a deeply rooted anchor in the Medicare Supplement market, as we do.

As always, I'll continue to keep you updated on the changes and opportunities in this awesome marketplace, here on MedicareAgentTraining.com.

Source:  More Cuts In Store For Medicare Plans — Here Are The Options That Will Shrink Most For Seniors
http://www.forbes.com/sites/scottgottlieb/2014/01/06/more-cuts-in-store-for-medicare-plans-heres-the-options-that-will-shrink-most-for-seniors/?goback=%2Egde_2479603_member_5826692941543927812#%21

Medicare Advantage Cuts Coming – Westfall’s Prediction Confirmed

On the Friday webinar for members, held January 3, 2014, I laid out the predictions from all of the experts on the decline for Medicare Advantage business in the near future. This is for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was the shenanigans employed by the president just prior to the election, where Medicare Advantage would be propped up to shield seniors from the cuts in the ACA – until just AFTER the election.
See the webinar on this topic here:

PlayButtonMedicareAgentTraining_175x117

Today, an article was written by Bloomberg pointing to the same conclusion.

http://www.businessweek.com/ap/2014-01-03/analysts-expects-slower-medicare-advantage-growth

It is an interesting read, and further proves my prediction was correct. Medicare Supplements are the wave of the future, not Medicare Advantage!

Make sure that you're a member of MedicareAgentTraining.com to get the latest, even before the pundits, on what's happening in our market. If you're not a member, you can join here.

Medicare Advantage Plan Reductions Hurting Seniors for 2014

In this briefing, Chris Westfall goes through the Medicare Advantage changes that are now being followed in the media. Seniors considering a Medicare Advantage plan for 2014 should watch this video and see the writing on the wall.

Update since video:
20% of RI docs leave the MA plan:
http://www.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/content/20131022-ri-medical-society-united-is-cutting-20-percent-of-doctors-from-its-medicare-plans.ece

See the video briefing:

 

References:

http://avalerehealth.net/news/avalere-analysis-reveals-first-drop-in-medicare-advantage-offerings-since-2

http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2013/October/15/medicare-open-enrollment-begins.aspx

http://www.providencejournal.com/breaking-news/content/20131021-unitedhealthcare-dropping-r.i.-doctors-from-medicare-advantage-network-poll.ece

https://MedicareAgentTraining.com – for agents only
Seniors should visit: http://SeniorSavingsNetwork.org

More Medicare Advantage Cuts Announced

Today, another news story covers the impact seniors will feel next year from the Obama Administrations cuts to Medicare Advantage.

We strive to let seniors know of the benefits and freedoms affordable by a Medicare Supplement plan.

This is in sharp contrast to the limitations, restrictions, and now, higher prices they will see on Medicare Advantage for 2014. -CW

From:  http://cnsnews.com/news/article/obama-administration-plans-cut-medicare-advantage-reimbursements

In this June 19, 2012 photo, Dr. Bruce Stowell examines patient Robert Busch at his office in Grants Pass, Ore. (AP Photo/Jeff Barnard)

Obama Administration Plans to Cut Medicare Advantage Reimbursements

(CNSNews.com) – The Obama administration is planning new cuts to Medicare, a federal regulatory filing reveals, cuts that could mean higher premiums or seniors losing their coverage altogether.

The new cuts come in the form of a planned reduction in the reimbursement rates the government pays to insurance companies that operate Medicare Advantage plans, which are services administered by private for-profit or non-profit providers that offer additional services than can be found in traditional Medicare.

In a Feb. 15 regulatory filing, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the surprised rate cuts of 2.3 percent – meaning it would pay health care providers 2.3 percent less for providing services to patients.

CMS said it was cutting payments because it foresaw the overall costs of the Medicare Advantage program shrinking by 3.2 percent, despite the fact that health care costs – the driver of all federal health care program costs – are only rising.

Medicare Advantage is like traditional Medicare except that its plans are administered by insurance companies, who are paid a per-enrollee reimbursement fee by the government. If insurance companies can provide care to seniors at less than what the government pays them for it, they make a profit.

Medicare Advantage provides coverage for approximately 28 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries, offering them higher-quality services and additional benefits, such as vision and dental care, than the traditional government program at slightly higher cost.

The Obama administration already plans to cut the Medicare Advantage program by $200 billion as part of Obamacare. However, the proposed reductions it announced in February are new, and will cut the program in addition to the planned $200 billion in Obamacare cuts, most of which are delayed in 2014.

The new cuts are also scheduled to go into effect in 2014, but as a function of the normal rate-setting process for that year, not a political effort to delay financial pain for seniors past an important election, as apparently was the case with the original Medicare cuts that Obama signed.

In its regulatory announcement, the CMS said it was assuming that reimbursement payments in traditional, government-run Medicare will be cut, and cited that as justification for cutting Medicare Advantage.

However, while those cuts to traditional Medicare have been set into law for more than a decade, Congress has never allowed them to happen, instituting what is known as the Doc Fix every year, to keep reimbursement payments the same.

Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) wrote to the CMS urging them to consider political reality and reverse their planned Medicare Advantage cuts.

“This assumption is highly problematic because – even though it almost certainly will turn out to be wrong – it translates into lower funding to support the health benefits of the 14 million Medicare beneficiaries who are currently enrolled in MA [Medicare Advantage] plans,” Rubio wrote on March 8.

In other words, if the Obama administration continues with its proposed new Medicare cuts, some or all of the 14 million seniors who get health care through the MA program could be negatively affected, that is, paying higher premiums or possibly losing coverage.

This is because the proposed cut could make the program unprofitable for insurers, who would be forced to either stop offering MA plans or pass the increased costs on to seniors in the form of higher premiums.

One health insurance provider told its shareholders that the proposed rate cuts could mean the end of Medicare Advantage all together.

“There are going to be some markets that at these rates, if they go the way they’re going, it’s going to be very hard for Medicare Advantage to survive,” Universal American Corp CEO Richard Barasch said in a February 19 conference call with shareholders, the industry publication Health Plan Weekreported.

“I think it’s going to be sort of a market-by-market, company-by-company exercise,” Barasch said.

Source:  http://cnsnews.com/news/article/obama-administration-plans-cut-medicare-advantage-reimbursements