Payers combat Medicare Advantage cuts

Insurers aren't taking any chances with the latest round of potential cuts to Medicare Advantage, so their lobby group, America's Health Insurance Plans, is launching a multimillion-dollar campaign to urge federal officials to keep payment rates steady in 2015.

In its "largest-ever mobilization" that includes TV, digital, print and display ads, AHIP aims to pressure the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services by reminding it that seniors are closely following the issue of Medicare Advantage rates.

"Seniors are watching because they depend on their Medicare Advantage benefits," AHIP CEO Karen Ignagni said this week in a statement. "Unless current payment rates are maintained, seniors in Medicare Advantage will lose benefits and choices on which they rely today."   

AHIP also will mobilize a grassroots campaign involving Medicare Advantage members visiting, calling, writing and using social media to reach out to their congressional representatives.

"If CMS doesn't keep Medicare Advantage payment rates flat next year, it is going to create a huge political problem for members of Congress this fall when they have to face millions of angry seniors who just found out they are losing benefits and choices they were promised they could keep," an insurance industry source familiar with the campaign told Politico.

AHIP hopes to achieve the same success found during its last media blitz in April, which also opposed Medicare Advantage cuts. That marketing campaign ultimately helped influence CMS to reverse the cuts and instead raise rates by 3 percent.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is gearing up its own advertising outreach to help boost enrollment of young consumers in plans sold on health insurance exchanges, particularly since young adults make up only 24 percent of all exchange enrollees. Targeting 25 key cities, like Dallas and Miami, the campaign will include online videos, events at local bars and door-to-door canvassing, reported The Hill's Healthwatch.

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

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