AAHP-HIAA Says Its Members Will Expand Medicare Benefits

By

Washington

Recently enacted Medicare reform legislation will produce better benefits, lower premiums and expanded choices for beneficiaries participating in the Medicare Advantage program, says the president of AAHP-HIAA.

A survey by AAHP-HIAA found that although the new Medicare Advantage funding rates were released only 2 weeks ago, AAHP-HIAA members are planning to provide more affordable and enhanced coverage, says Karen Ignagni.

Speaking at a press briefing, Ignagni said health plans representing 93% of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries expect to use the new funding to lower monthly premiums.

Plans representing 60% of beneficiaries say they will enhance or increase benefits, including prescription drug coverage, preventive screenings and disease management programs, according to Ignagni.

Plans representing 80% of beneficiaries, she continues, will reduce co-pays and deductibles.

“This lays a solid foundation for a private sector option under Medicare,” Ignagni says.

The legislation, she says, is producing tangible results. While 6 years of underfunding cannot be changed overnight, Ignagni says, Congress will see the benefits of the legislation.

Ignagni adds that 81% of Medicare Advantage plans say they expect to increase enrollment in 2004.

After 5 years of slow growth and declining availability, she says, the vast majority of plans now expect to add beneficiaries.

“This is a strong sign of confidence in the direction of Medicare reform,” Ignagni says.

In addition, she says, more than 75% of plans expect to strengthen and broaden their provider networks.

Turning to the Bush administrations fiscal year 2005 budget, Ignagni praised the administration for focusing on the issue of the uninsured through such initiatives as providing tax credits for the purchase of insurance.

She notes that last year, few observers thought Medicare reform could be enacted but it was.

This year, Ignagni says, she hopes something similar can happen on the uninsured.

“We will be working on a bipartisan basis to make it happen,” she says.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, February 6, 2004. Copyright 2004 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.