AHIP fights Medicare Advantage cuts with TV ads, social media

Since the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently proposed decreasing Medicare Advantage payments, the health insurance industry has launched a widespread campaign, including a new TV ad and social media websites, to convince lawmakers and regulators to throw out the cuts.

America's Health Insurance Plans already  called the proposed reductions, which would reduce payments per person for Medicare Advantage plans by more than 2 percent in 2014, a "crushing blow" to seniors. AHIP has been warning that the latest cuts could lead to insurers abandoning certain markets and seniors dropping out of Medicare Advantage plans.

"Urgent action is needed to protect seniors in Medicare Advantage from once again facing significant disruption in their healthcare coverage," AHIP CEO Karen Ignani said Wednesday in a statement.

In a new TV and online ad, AHIP highlights the cumulative effect of payment cuts on Medicare Advantage members. "Seniors will pay more, get less and lose choices," the ad says. "Seniors in Medicare Advantage got hit hard by health reform. The sequester piled on more cuts. Now, the Medicare agency is proposing deep, new payment cuts. It's too much."

AHIP hopes the ads will compel Medicare Advantage members to contact their lawmakers, who will then pressure CMS to either stop or lower the cuts. Already, thousands of seniors have called Congress, a source familiar with the campaign told The Hill's Healthwatch.

The industry's lobbying group also launched a related social media campaign, using a new Facebook page and Twitter account focusing on the proposed Medicare Advantage cuts. AHIP said thousands of seniors have registered their support through social media.

On top of its public campaign, AHIP also submitted comments to CMS, including recommendations to stabilize the Medicare Advantage program.

To learn more:
- here's the AHIP statement
- read The Hill's Healthwatch article

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