Thursday, June 28, 2007

It's Broke...So Stark Says Let's Fix It

House Ways and Means Health subcommittee Chairman, Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA) has introduced an important piece of legislation to prevent Medicare Advantage (MA) plans from charging seniors and people with disabilities more than traditional Medicare.

The Medicare Advantage Truth in Advertising Act would prohibit MA plans from charging higher cost-sharing. Stark says:

“Medicare Advantage plans don’t live up to their name. Though seniors and people with disabilities wouldn’t know it from the never-ending stream of insurance propaganda, Medicare Advantage plans charge more than traditionalMedicare for a large number of services – everything from home health care to hospital stays and chemotherapy drugs to durable medical equipment. The Medicare Advantage Truth in Advertising Act protects beneficiaries by ensuring they won’t face higher out of pocket costs in private plans than they do in Medicare.”

The Chairman's News Release also says:

"The bill would continue to permit flat co-payments – which private plans charge for certain benefits or services in lieu of deductibles or co-insurance in traditional Medicare – but those charges could never exceed Medicare’s charges.”

The National Committee supports this legislation because; as our President/CEO, Barbara Kennelly says, beneficiaries aren't getting what they pay for with this privatized plan:

"Despite receiving substantial overpayments, private MA plans can provide inferior health coverage compared to traditional Medicare. While MA plans are required to cover everything that Medicare covers, they do not have to cover every benefit in the same way. For example, private plans may create financial
barriers to care by imposing higher cost-sharing requirements for benefits that protest the sickest and most vulnerable beneficiaries. Preventing private plans from imposing greater cost-sharing requirements than traditional Medicare would better protect beneficiaries from higher and unexpected out-of-pocket costs."

Here's another link to a Committe Chart detailing sample higher out of pocket costs in Medicare Advantage.

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