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False allegations

Dear Editor:

I recently received a letter from Representative Tipton’s office concerning Medicare Advantage Plans. The letter was typical Republican misrepresentation of the facts. The subject of the letter was the 6 percent reduction in provider reimbursement rate for Medical Advantage Plans as provided for in the Affordable Care Act and makes the assertion that the 6 percent will be passed on to seniors with these plans and the reduction is a cut to Medicare. Both of these allegations are false.

The Kaiser Foundation: “Over the past decades, Medicare payment policy was shifted from one that produced savings to one that focused more on expanding access to private plans and providing extra benefits to Medicare private plan enrollees. These policy changes resulted in Medicare paying private plans more per enrollee than the cost of care for beneficiaries in traditional Medicare, on average (MedPAC 2010). The Affordable Care Act (ACA) of 2010 produced another shift in payment policy by reducing federal payments to Medicare Advantage plans over time, bringing them closer to the average costs of care under the traditional Medicare program. It also provided for new bonus payments to plans based on quality ratings, beginning in 2012, and required plans beginning in 2014 to maintain a medical loss ratio of at least 85 percent, restricting the share of premiums that Medicare Advantage plans can use for administrative expenses and profits.”

Rep. Tipton says he will continue to fight against the ACA to reform and strengthen Medicare. However, that is just what the ACA is doing now, holding down costs and keeping Medicare solvent for years to come. The Representative should stop trying to scare seniors and do some real research into what the ACA actually does. According to the Kaiser Foundation, participation in MA plans have continued to increase and that premiums have remained stable. Please go to the Kaiser Family Foundation Medicare Advantage Fact Sheet for a more complete discussion.

David Butcher

This story was posted on May 15, 2014.