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Last week, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposal that would reduce reimbursements to Medicare Advantage (MA) plans by about 1 percent. While that may not seem like a big change, it is on top of more than 10 percent in reductions to the program the previous two years – and 14 percent since 2010. This is troublesome for the MA program and those who support it, including businesses.
Businesses care about MA and are offering the plans more and more to ease the transition for current employees who are entering retirement -- and employees like this type of coverage. MA plans have the same look and feel as an employer-sponsored plan, so retirees are comfortable with them and are signing up in larger numbers each year. Enrollment in employer-sponsored plans has increased from 1.9 million beneficiaries in 2010 to 3.1 million in 2014. However, this program will be jeopardized if the federal government continues cutting rates and stops being a reliable partner in the future.
There are many benefits to MA plans. Seniors are able to save money as a result of the plans’ combined deductibles and out-of-pocket maximums, and participants enjoy additional and better coordinated benefits. These are features that those in the employer-based market understand and value, so the transition from employer coverage to an MA plan is virtually seamless. If the government continues to tug and pull at the program, those seams will split and employers will not be able to offer the security and health care coverage their employees expect.
That’s why the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and National Association of Manufacturers have been working together to try to protect this important program, and we are urging our members to weigh in with their senators and representatives now. There is still time to tell CMS to protect this health care program for seniors and restore vital reimbursement levels.