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- Seniors' Coalition Launches Major New Ad and Grassroots Campaign to Protect Medicare Advantage Coverage
Seniors' Coalition Launches Major New Ad and Grassroots Campaign to Protect Medicare Advantage Coverage
For Immediate Release
January 14, 2014
New payment cuts would
threaten seniors' benefits and choices;
Campaign urges CMS to
maintain current payment levels
Washington, D.C. – As CMS prepares to set
2015 Medicare Advantage payment rates, AHIP's Coalition for Medicare Choices
(CMC) is launching its largest-ever mobilization to remind Washington that
seniors are following this issue closely and to urge the Medicare agency to
protect them from further harm by maintaining current payment levels.
Last year the Medicare Advantage program was hit by a 6.5 percent
cut in payments, which have already caused benefit reductions, higher
out-of-pocket costs, and loss of provider choices for seniors. This latest phase of the “Seniors Are
Watching” campaign warns that additional Medicare Advantage payment rate
reductions would further put at risk the benefits and choices that seniors like
and want to keep.
"Seniors are watching because they depend on their Medicare
Advantage benefits," said AHIP President and CEO Karen Ignagni.
"Unless current payment rates are maintained, seniors in Medicare
Advantage will lose benefits and choices on which they rely today."
The sustained campaign will include:
- Television, digital,
print, and display advertising in key markets around the country and in
mobilization of CMC’s 1.5 million Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. Throughout
this campaign, seniors will be visiting congressional district offices,
participating in town hall meetings, and sharing their concerns with Washington
through phone calls, letters, and social media.
- Engagement of CMC’s
growing social media community.
"We’ll have millions and millions of seniors standing up,” said
Mary Kay Boerner of Columbus, Ohio, a Medicare Advantage beneficiary since
Medicare Advantage is the part of Medicare through which seniors
are able to choose comprehensive medical coverage from a private health
insurance plan. More than 14 million seniors have chosen to enroll in a
Medicare Advantage plan because of the better services, higher-quality care,
and additional benefits these plans provide.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) cut funding to the Medicare
Advantage program by $200 billion. These funding reductions combined with other
changes to the program resulted in payment cuts of 6.5 percent last year. These
were real cuts in payments – not reductions in rates of projected growth. The new
health insurance tax that started January 1, 2014 will also impact Medicare
Advantage beneficiaries this year.
“There’s been enough damage done to it already without adding
more,” said William Thompson of Columbus, Ohio, a Medicare Advantage beneficiary
CMS, the Medicare agency, each year sets payment rates for
Medicare Advantage plans based on a number of factors. Preliminary 2015 rates
are expected to be announced by CMS on February 21, 2014, with final rates
expected on April 7, 2014.
Seniors will see the impact of any new payment cuts in late
October 2014, when they begin enrolling in their 2015 Medicare Advantage
coverage. Another round of payment cuts
would mean seniors learning that out-of-pocket costs are higher, benefits have
been cut, provider access is restricted, and choice of plans is more
limited. “If something happens to my plan that I have to change, I don’t
know what I will do,” said Betty Watford, of Tallahassee, Florida, a Medicare
Advantage beneficiary since 2011.
Founded in 1999, the Coalition for Medicare Choices is a
national grassroots organization of more than 1.5 million Medicare Advantage
beneficiaries from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
Visit www.MedicareChoices.org to
Providing Health Benefits for Over 200 Million Americans.