Two top National Association of Insurance Commissioners officials are supporting efforts to control Medicare Advantage plan enrollee lobbying programs.
Roger Sevigny, the president of the NAIC, Kansas City, Mo., and Sandy Praeger, the chair of the NAIC’s Health Insurance and Managed Care Committee, say they agree with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that the current wave of mailings about federal health reform legislation should be given close scrutiny.
“State insurance commissioners have written and testified on numerous occasions about the deplorable marketing and sales abuses facing Medicare beneficiaries we have witnessed first-hand in the Medicare Advantage marketplace,” Sevigny and Praeger write in a letter to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the highest ranking Republican on the Committee.
“State regulators believe these troublesome practices are directly tied to excess payments made to Medicare Advantage plans, and support changes made to federal law that would rein in these abuses,” Sevigny and Praeger writes.
CMS has reported that a number of insurers have been warning enrollees that health reform legislation might hurt their Medicare benefits, and it has asked the insurers to end the mailings.
Sevigny, who was appointed to his post as New Hampshire insurance commissioner by a Democratic governor, and Praeger, who was elected as Kansas insurance commissioner as a Republican, note that CMS believes the Medicare plan enrollee contacts may violate federal law.
“State insurance regulators take scare tactics directed at senior citizens very seriously,” Sevigny and Praeger write. “We join CMS in demanding these contacts be halted. To the extent misleading communications may be in violation of state laws and regulations, and to the extent state insurance agents and brokers may be participating in these communications or insurance companies are contacting non-Medicare Advantage policyholders, state regulators will remain vigilant and take appropriate action.”
If Congress would end federal pre-emption of state Medicare Advantage plan regulation and let state regulators oversee Medicare Advantage plan communications, that would help state regulators take action against misleading communications, Sevigny and Praeger write.