Legislation tightening regulatory oversight at both the federal and state level of the marketing of Medicare Advantage plans appears more likely as a result of a meeting of minds between industry leadership and members of the key Senate Finance Committee last week.
Specifically, at a meeting with the committee March 4, the board of America’s Health Insurance Plans presented proposals accepted by the full committee for legislative provisions that will curb the use of more aggressive techniques in the marketing of Medicare Advantage plans.
That constitutes a key reversal from prior AHIP policy, and undermines the adamant position of the Bush administration.
The AHIP board also said it would support creation of a process for a state to trigger a CMS targeted audit of marketing activities. Specifically, the AHIP board said it would accept provisions in legislation that would prohibit “cold calls” by agents and the offering of financial inducements to pressure seniors.
The provisions were accepted in principle by the panel and will be incorporated into Medicare legislation currently being drafted, said Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., after the meeting.
Baucus expects to bring the legislation forward for consideration this spring.
The fact that the AHIP board agreed to the consumer protections and all members of the committee were involved in the talks is critical because Republicans in Congress as well as the White House have stymied efforts by Democrats in both the House and the Senate over the past 15 months to impose curbs on the more aggressive techniques used to sell Medicare Advantage plans.
The AHIP board issued a statement in advance of the meeting that said its proposal indicates “its strong commitment to serving seniors in Medicare and to advocate that more be done through this process to advance consumer protections.”
AHIP said its members will also support provisions requiring Medicare Advantage and Part D plans to comply with state information requests about the performance of a licensed agent or broker as part of a state investigation into the individual’s conduct.
Specifically, AHIP supports the appointment of agents and brokers marketing Medicare Advantage and Part D plans consistent with state law so state insurance regulators know which company an agent or broker is marketing for and can act quickly to address any inquiries or abuses.
Regarding state regulation, the AHIP board said in the meeting with the Finance Committee that it would recommend that states be provided with additional tools to monitor sales activities and address market conduct issues.