Camalot Todd, Nevada Current
February 1, 2024
Democratic Nevada U.S. Sens. Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto are among more than 60 senators who signed a broadly bipartisan letter supporting the Biden Administration’s efforts to improve Medicare Advantage transparency.
The letter sent this week comes after Cortez Masto was one of four U.S. senators who in December called on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to strengthen oversight of the plans and improve transparency.
More than half of eligible Nevadans are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans, also called Medicare Part C, which are private insurer plans that the federal government contracts with and expects to pay over $7 trillion to in the next decade. But those plans have been under increasing scrutiny for predatory marketing and submitting inaccurate patient diagnosis data for additional payments from CMS.
“The lack of transparency in Medicare Advantage managed care plans deprives patients of important information that helps them make informed decisions,” said U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, in a statement on the Biden Administration’s efforts.
CMS responded to these criticisms by announcing a public comment session starting on Jan. 30 and closing on May 29. CMS has also improved data collection on prior authorization, race and ethnicity, and costs of and use of supplemental benefits like dental and vision care.
This week’s letter to CMS Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure from more than 60 senators is part of a continuing effort to highlight the need for “ongoing reforms to address predatory marketing practices, and encourage plan performance transparency,” according to a statement from Cortez Masto’s office.
In 2023, $454 billion or 54% of total federal Medicare spending went to Medicare Advantage plans nationally, but missing data meant “these records can be incomplete or lacking key information that is essential for combating fraud.”
Medicare Advantage plans have been submitting inaccurate patient diagnosis data for additional payments from CMS and overcharging taxpayers between $88 billion to $140 billion a year, according to a report released earlier in 2023 by Physicians for a National Health Program, an organization of physicians and health care workers that advocates for a single-payer health care system.
“Looking to the future, we believe that every American eligible for Medicare should receive clear, accurate, and timely information about the cost and quality of their coverage options. We look forward to working with you to combat predatory and deceptive marketing practices, improve the accuracy of provider directories, and increase transparency of plan performance to help consumers and taxpayers better assess value,” the senators wrote in the letter.
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