WASHINGTON BUREAU — Congressional Democrats who voted for big cuts in Medicare Advantage spending now are asking regulators to keep the cuts from affecting MA rates and benefits.
The leaders of the House and Senate committees who oversaw development of the Affordable Care Act – the legislative package that includes the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, today told U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to protect seniors against MA rate hikes and out-of-pocket costs increases in 2011.
The 2011 MA carrier bids are due Monday.
“The Affordable Care Act increases the authority vested in the secretary to hold MA plans accountable for their bid submissions,” the Democratic lawmakers write in their letter.
“Using this authority, we expect the secretary and officials at CMS to ensure that the bid proposals are accurate, merit approval and are not discriminatory in benefit design or relative to plan payments,” the lawmakers write.
Private insurance companies should justify any proposed changes in MA premiums or benefits, and Sebelius should use ACA provisions to protect seniors against MA plans that offer discriminatory benefit packages, the lawmakers add.
ACA provisions now limit the ability of MA plans to charge higher cost-sharing than fee-for-service Medicare in 3 specific categories, and the lawmakers say the provisions give Sebelius the authority to extend this protection to additional services.