Insurers, lawmakers continue to fight Medicare Advantage cuts

The health insurance industry and lawmakers are pulling out all the stops to urge the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services to either cancel or scale back proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage.

A bipartisan group of almost 100 House members wrote to HHS last week, requesting the agency drop the cuts and reconsider certain assumptions made within its proposal to decrease payments per person for Medicare Advantage plans by more than 2 percent in 2014.

Namely, the lawmakers want HHS to reevaluate whether Medicare's scheduled payment cuts for doctors will actually take effect, reported The Hill's Healthwatch.

"This reduction in funding will leave many vulnerable seniors with fewer benefits, higher out-of-pocket costs and in some cases the loss of their current MA coverage," wrote the lawmakers, led by Reps. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.).

Meanwhile, America's Health Insurance Plans has launched its second TV ad, called "Drastic," targeting the cuts. This one, which follows AHIP's previous commercial highlighting the cumulative effect of payment cuts on Medicare Advantage members, features actual Medicare Advantage members explaining their concerns about how the proposed cuts will affect them, according to an AHIP Coverage blog post.

AHIP added that more than 25,000 seniors have called, visited or written their Congress members since HHS announced the cuts last month.

But despite the widespread campaigns opposing the cuts, one group says Medicare Advantage insurers already get paid more than they should, reported the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"The plans are making a lot of statements about how they're going to be hurt, but they also are very interested in staying in the Medicare Advantage business, and they will do what they can to stay in that business," David Lipschutz, a policy attorney with the Center for Medicare Advocacy, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

To learn more:
- here's the House letter
- read The Hill's Healthwatch article
- see the AHIP Coverage blog post
- check out the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article