95 House members protest Medicare Advantage cuts

{mosads}”This reduction in funding will leave many vulnerable seniors with fewer benefits, higher out-of-pocket costs, and in some cases the loss of their current MA coverage,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to CMS.

Reps. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) and John Barrow (D-Ga.) took the lead on the letter, which was signed by 95 lawmakers from both parties.

Insurers say the the Medicare Advantage cuts in the healthcare law and the 2.2 percent cut proposed last month would add up to a total reduction of roughly 7 to 8 percent. Medicare Advantage plans would have to make up the difference with $50 to $90 worth of benefit cuts or premium hikes, according to industry estimates.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.) have previously sent letters of their own to CMS protesting the proposed cut.

The letter from House members on Friday urges CMS to reconsider the underlying assumptions in its payment proposal. Specifically, the agency assumed that scheduled cuts in Medicare’s payments to doctors will take effect, even though Congress routinely blocks those cuts.

The cuts to doctors’ payments often frustrate budget offices, which are forced to build the cuts into their baselines because they’re written into the law — even though, realistically, Congress never lets them take effect.

But the lawmakers said they’re confident CMS has the power to assume that Congress will act again to avert the cuts to doctors — a change in methodology that would likely help soften the proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage plans.

“Over the past decade, Congress repeatedly has approved Medicare physician payment ‘fixes’ to block similar cuts from taking effect,” the lawmakers wrote. “These bills consistently have been passed with strong bipartisan support and we are confident that such legislation will be passed again in the 2013 session.”

Tags John Barrow Marco Rubio Phil Gingrey

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