Sebelius: Medicare Advantage Cuts Won’t Hurt Plans
Will the health law curb private Medicare insurance plans, known as Medicare Advantage, or won't it? Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius told reporters Monday that it won't, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports. "Ms. Sebelius said the decision by a large Massachusetts insurer to leave the Medicare Advantage market is not a harbinger of the program's decline. ... [she] said she was proud of the fact that after an average 10 percent premium increase for Medicare Advantage seniors last year, the federal government was able to use new tools in the law to negotiate a 1 percent decrease this year" The plans, which are popular in western Pennsylvania, usually include broader benefits than traditional Medicare, but at a higher cost to the program. The extra funding for the plans is being scaled back as part of health reform (Malloy and Twedt, 10/5).
Des Moines Register: In some places, though, seniors are seeing plans vanish. "About 21,000 Iowans received notice last week that their insurers would no longer provide their Medicare Advantage plans in 2011, a state agency said. Iowans who received notice that their plans will no longer continue can join a new Medicare Advantage plan or return to original Medicare" (Eller, 10/5).
Business First (Louisville, Ky.): Hospitals are also expecting cuts. "As health care providers anticipate the changes from health care reform legislation that was signed into law this year, another change becomes effective today - a cut to hospitals' inpatient Medicare reimbursements. At 0.4 percent, the reduction might seem small, but it amounts to millions of dollars for the area's largest hospital operators. Hospital officials said the reduction will not affect patient care, but it will further pinch their bottom lines amid already challenging times." These cuts are recouping what the Medicare agency views as excess payments in 2008 and 2009 (Adkins, 10/1).
CQ HealthBeat: Meanwhile, a study says Medicare prescription drugs costs will rise. "A Kaiser Family Foundation study released on Monday found that premiums for Medicare Part D prescription drug plans will rise by 10 percent on average in 2011 for seniors who stick with their current plans" (Norman, 10/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.