Better Medicare Alliance Advocacy Update – September 2019
October 1, 2019
Posted by: Daniella Chambers
Note from Congresswoman Schwartz
Hello BMA advocates!
Have you heard the news? The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently published information on Medicare Advantage plan premiums and offerings for 2020 enrollment. CMS found that the Medicare Advantage average monthly premium is expected to decrease by 14% next year, hitting the lowest premium cost in 13 years!
This is great news for seniors and individuals with disabilities enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans nationwide! In a time of premium increases in other markets, premiums in Medicare Advantage will remain low, while plan choices and benefits continue to expand.
In 2020, enrollment in Medicare Advantage is expected to reach 40% of all Medicare-eligible individuals to a total of over 24 million people. This growth is a testament to the value Medicare Advantage provides, offering high-quality care at affordable costs.
At BMA, we recognize the importance of making sure beneficiaries are equipped with comprehensive, accurate information about their Medicare coverage options to inform enrollment decisions in a way that best meets their health and financial needs. We believe all Medicare beneficiaries should be active choosers of their care. As the annual Open Enrollment Period approaches, we encourage you to familiarize yourself with available tools and resources designed to make comparing your options easier.
Recently, CMS updated the Medicare Plan Finder, an online tool where you can explore and compare plans available in your area. BMA actively participated in the revision process, citing your experiences and concerns in the recommendations we offered to CMS to improve the Plan Finder. We are happy to report that the new Plan Finder tool is much more user friendly. If you have a MyMedicare account, you can now pull directly from your claims data to build an accurate drug list. Validated users also have access to 24/7 web chat assistance to help with both technical and enrollment questions.
In addition to the Plan Finder, you will likely soon be receiving the 2020 Medicare & You Handbook, which is updated annually to assist beneficiaries with enrollment decisions. Using the Handbook, you can learn more about Medicare coverage options, the Open Enrollment Process, and what services are covered under Medicare. Your feedback on the Handbook offered in the last few years has helped BMA propose changes to improve the Handbook. We are currently viewing the Handbook and are pleased to see how our recommendations were implemented by CMS.
Finally, are you looking for a quick reference to get some easy and understandable information on your Medicare options before Open Enrollment? We suggest our BMA Open Enrollment Guide. The BMA Guide provides a comprehensive overview of key differences between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage to help you make an informed choice during the enrollment period. We update this guide regularly, so check back to find our most recent edition prior to Open Enrollment.
If you utilize any of these resources to gather information and compare Medicare choices this fall, we’d love to hear your feedback. Send our team an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to help us improve them in ways that meet your needs.
Thank you for your advocacy for Medicare Advantage and our efforts here at BMA!
Allyson Y. Schwartz
President & CEO, Better Medicare Alliance
With members back in Washington following the August recess, BMA continues to advocate for suspension of the Health Insurance Tax (HIT). The HIT, which could increase health care costs or reduce access to supplemental benefits for seniors on Medicare Advantage, was recently reviewed by a Task Force of the Senate Finance Committee. BMA advocates took the opportunity to make their voices heard by members of the Task Force, sending more than 1,015 letters urging members to #StoptheHITonSeniors.
The Committee Task Force was charged with identifying long-term solutions for six unique health taxes. In its recent report, the Task Force did not come to a consensus on how to address the tax provisions, but one thing was made very clear: none of the participating parties advocated for continuation of the HIT.
Senators Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), who have led efforts to delay and/or repeal the HIT in the Senate, urged their colleagues to take immediate action to prevent higher costs from being passed down to consumers. BMA recognizes their advocacy on behalf of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries, and encourages advocates residing in Colorado or New Hampshire to join us on Twitter to thank Senator Shaheen and Senator Gardner for their support of the coverage seniors choose.
Don’t live in Colorado or New Hampshire? It is still critically important that we keep up the pressure on Congress to delay or repeal the HIT. If you are concerned about the tax impacting your coverage, we encourage you to speak out. Call or write your members of Congress – whether for the first time, or to reach out again. Write a letter to the editor and make sure other Medicare beneficiaries in your area understand the HIT and how it could impact their lives. Visit our website for more information on the HIT to help you effectively address this issue with lawmakers.
Featured Advocacy Action
At BMA, we value your stories and experiences with Medicare Advantage to help support our outreach to members of Congress and their staff. We know beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage represent a diverse group of seniors and individuals with disabilities from across the country, and we work hard to demonstrate how Medicare Advantage offers the quality care you need. Your feedback— in your own words– makes the difference. That’s why we’ve been collecting stories from advocates nationwide.
We are extremely close to having collected wonderful advocate stories from all fifty states, but we need your help to make sure every state is included. If you live in the following states, head to medicaremyway.com to share your Medicare Advantage story today!
Our Top Advocates
- Judith C. (Carmel, CA)
- Luther A. (Fillmore, CA)
- Maryann V. (San Bernardino, CA)
BMA Ambassadors work directly with BMA to further engage in advocacy activities, like hosting events, recruiting new members, and contacting Congress.
The Better Medicare Alliance Ambassador Facebook Group is a self-selected committee of the Better Medicare Alliance’s most engaged senior advocates dedicated to strengthening health care for seniors and people with disabilities who are enrolled in Medicare Advantage.