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Better Care: “The Hallmark Of Medicare Advantage”

posted by Alicia Caramenico

on March 12, 2015

At AHIP’s National Health Policy Conference on Wednesday, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell discussed why health insurance is so important. It provides health security, financial security, and peace of mind to individuals and families.

A great example of that in action is Medicare Advantage. At the conference, panelist Susan Campbell of WomenHeart: The National Coalition for Women with Heart Disease highlighted how Medicare Advantage helps deliver better care and better health for women. Campbell shared stories from women with heart disease and their reasons for choosing a Medicare Advantage plan: the choice of providers, predictably of costs, continuity of care, and additional services and support networks.

In addition to women with heart disease, Medicare Advantage is a critical lifeline for Hispanic populations, largely due to the care coordination that is fundamental to the program, according to National Hispanic Health Foundation CEO Dr. Elena Rios. For instance, she explained how nurse coordinators help Hispanics view Medicare Advantage care as an extension of their families.

Rios also shared some statistics that illustrate how much Medicare Advantage coverage means to Hispanics. Forty-four percent of all Hispanic Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage. And 80 percent of Hispanics in Medicare Advantage are at an income level of $20,000. So proposed funding cuts will hit these families hardest and increase their out-of-pocket costs, she warned.

Panelist Don Crane, CEO of CAPG, gave the provider perspective on MA, saying that doctors love Medicare Advantage. That’s because it allows doctors to be accountable for cost and quality. And most important, it allows doctors to deliver better care – and “that is the hallmark of Medicare Advantage,” Crane said.

“We have much to thank Medicare Advantage for,” Crane told the audience. Without MA, Crane said physician groups wouldn’t have the incentives needed to develop EHRs, perform predictive modeling, or deliver managed care. Innovations and improvements driven by Medicare Advantage are key to keeping patients healthier and out of the hospital.

“We should be building this program, far from cutting a program that actually works,” Crane said.