Better Medicare Alliance Advocacy Update – June 2019
June 30, 2019
Posted by: Daniella Chambers
Note from Congresswoman Schwartz
Hello BMA Advocates!
Did you know that by 2030, all baby boomers will be older than age 65? One in every five residents will be over 65 years and Medicare enrollment will have doubled to over 40 million individuals.
Currently, Medicare Advantage provides coverage for over 22 million seniors and individuals with disabilities nationwide. As more and more individuals become eligible for Medicare coverage, it is important that they know their options and actively choose how to access their health benefits. Better Medicare Alliance (BMA) believes the 116th Congress provides us a unique opportunity to expand beneficiary knowledge of Medicare Advantage and to work with regulators at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to improve educational decision-making tools for beneficiaries.
Thanks to your willingness to share your stories, we understand the challenges many beneficiaries face when exploring their Medicare coverage options. We recognize that clear and complete information on Medicare Advantage is needed to make informed decisions about your coverage.
We have used your feedback to inform our advocacy with CMS. In 2017 and 2018, BMA sent recommendations to improve several beneficiary decision-making tools and educational materials. We highlighted ways to make the information on the differences between Traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage clearer, more user-friendly, more accurate, and unbiased. And, CMS has been responsive, making changes in the 2018 and 2019 Handbook to make the choices available clearer and easier to understand.
Recently, BMA participated in a preview of the new Medicare Plan Finder, a web tool used to explore options and enroll in Medicare Advantage and Part D plans. We are encouraged by proposed changes made by CMS to improve user experience and ensure beneficiaries are aware of their Medicare choices. We were pleased to see that a good number of the changes were consistent with our recommendations! BMA’s input, based on your comments to us, made a difference!
CMS plans to launch the revised Plan Finder before Open Enrollment this fall. To receive updates on changes to the Medicare Plan Finder, sign up for the Medicare My Way Task Force today! Thank you so much for your involvement.
Your engagement, as well the active involvement of the organizations that make up our alliance make us who we are as BMA and inform and amplify our advocacy for Medicare Advantage. BMA has over 130 ally organizations and they include health providers, health plans, service organizations, and professional associations on the national, state and local levels. This month, BMA recognized the efforts of our ally organizations at our Annual Ally Dinner in Washington, D.C. The event was well -attended, and we thank Fran Soistman, Executive Vice President and Head of Government Services at Aetna for addressing the crowd to encourage continued collaboration and success on behalf of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries like you.
Thank you for using your voice to support and improve Medicare Advantage!
Allyson Y. Schwartz
President & CEO
Better Medicare Alliance
Seniors Spur Senate to Review HIT
By Daniella Chambers, BMA Advocacy Manager
With 2020 Open Enrollment quickly approaching, thousands of BMA advocates have called on members of Congress to delay the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) and protect seniors and individuals with disabilities from rising plan premiums. We are pleased to note your voices are making a difference.
In June, the Senate Finance Committee (SFC) announced that delay of the HIT would be included in a proposed tax bill. In addition, the Chairman of the Committee added the HIT to a list of health fees a special Task force will review for long-term fixes. Task force members Senators Patrick Toomey (R-PA), Bob Casey (D-PA), Mike Enzi (R-WY) and Mark Warner (D-VA) are charged with evaluating the tax and finding a more permanent solution, which may include options to phase out, scale back, or elimination of the tax.
Nationwide, 22 million Medicare Advantage beneficiaries rely on Congress to keep their health care costs affordable. If the HIT goes into effect in 2020, millions of Americans on Medicare Advantage plans could face premium increases of $250 or more per year. BMA supports efforts to delay the HIT through 2021 or permanently repeal the tax. Repealing or delaying the HIT is the most direct way for Congress to prevent a spike in premiums.
We continue to call for delay or repeal of the HIT and have written to the Committee urging them to act to avoid increases in premiums. For more information, read our letter to Senate Finance and join the Medicare My Way Task Force today to receive updates on the HIT.
Join Our Task Forces
Looking Ahead: Medicare Academy Month
You won’t want to miss the activities in store as we celebrate Medicare Academy Month! Join BMA on Facebook every week during July for new articles and activities on the biggest topics in Medicare Advantage. Test your knowledge with weekly quizzes and see how your scores stack up against top advocates in our community as you compete for prizes! For more information and updates follow us on Facebook today.
Our Top Advocates
- Richard B. (Fort Lauderdale, FL.)
- Carol F. (Herndon, VA.)
- Michael H. (Salem, OR.)
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. Join us on Facebook and become part of BMA’s inner circle of advocates.
Better Medicare Alliance is a Twitter leader in discussions about Medicare Advantage and health care for our nation’s seniors. Follow us on Twitter to stay up-to-date on Medicare Advantage news.