Senators Collins, King Join Bipartisan Group of Senators In Push to Strengthen Medicare Advantage Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Angus King (I-Maine) joined a bipartisan group of colleagues to send a letter urging the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma to strengthen the Medicare Advantage program that provides quality health care to 21 million seniors and individuals with disabilities. The senators wrote to Administrator Verma requesting that she build on bipartisan efforts to increase the use of telemedicine, promote value-based insurance design, and expand benefits that address social determinants of health by including transportation, nutrition, and other non-medical needs.

 

“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,” the Senators wrote.  “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 full text of the letter is available HERE and below:

 

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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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The following colleagues joined Senators Collins and King on the letter: Senators Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Doug Jones (D-Ala.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), James Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), Jeffrey Merkley (D-Ore.), Jeanne Shaheen (DN.H.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), John Hoeven (RN.D.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Joe Manchin (DW.Va.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Thomas Carper (D-Del.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Bill Cassidy (R-La), Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), John Thune (RS.D.), Shelley Capito (RW.Va.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Lindsey Graham (RS.C.), Tim Scott (RS.C.), Michael Rounds (RS.D.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mitt Romney (R-Utah), Richard Burr (RN.C.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), Tom Udall (DN.M.), Martin Heinrich (DN.M.), Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), Mike Braun (R-Ind.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.) and Kevin Cramer (RN.D.).

 

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