Health Insurers Are Addressing Problems With Medicare Advantage Plans

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Health insurance companies offering Medicare Advantage plans that were found by CMS audits to have violated Medicare marketing standards on Tuesday said that they were working to fix the problems and that they would provide better services to beneficiaries, the New York Times reports. The comments came as concerns were expressed by Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama (Ill.), Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chair Pete Stark (D-Calif.) over marketing of MA plans and insurers' handling of claims and appeals.

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Acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems said that "contract compliance and beneficiary protection" have been among his top priorities since he began leading the agency last month. Beneficiaries soon will have the option to switch plans, with enrollment taking place in the last six weeks of the year (Pear, New York Times, 10/10).

Right-to-Life Group Lobbies To Support MA Plan
The National Right to Life Committee has been lobbying to protect MA private fee-for-service plans because the group believes they are the "only type that provide protections against beneficiaries dying as a result of being denied care," which the group says is "tantamount to forced euthanasia," The Hill reports. The plans are the most expensive in MA, and Democrats have been pushing for cuts, with some Republicans showing support. The Right to Life Committee said it is designating the issue on its report card for the 110th Congress, which might "put committee Republicans in a difficult spot as they attempt to reach a bipartisan accord on a new Medicare bill," The Hill reports (Raju/Young, The Hill, 10/10).

By Kaisernetwork.org

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