09.25.18

Daines, King Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Protect Medicare Benefits

U.S. SENATE — U.S. Senators Steve Daines (Mont.) and Angus King (Maine) today introduced S. 3497, the bipartisan Medicare Advantage Quality Payment Relief Act, to reverse an unintended policy of the Affordable Care Act that is currently denying millions of seniors and people with disabilities the full measure of their Medicare Advantage benefits.

“This damaging Obamacare policy has left 17,000 Montanans without the Medicare benefits they deserve,” Daines said. “Our bipartisan bill will ensure that seniors and people with disabilities receive the full scope of the Medicare Advantage benefits.”

“The Medicare Advantage program serves tens of thousands of Maine seniors, but the Quality Incentive Payment program designed to encourage top-level care and decrease costs for beneficiaries is currently not working the way it was designed,” King said. “It’s important for Maine people that we solve this problem, so that our state’s citizens can receive high-quality medical care with reduced premiums.”

Daines and King also introduced S. 3496, the Improving Seniors Access to Quality Benefits Act, which requires the Department of Health and Human Services to study the impacts of the benchmark cap on Medicare Advantage coverage.

The bill has received significant support including:   

Matthew Eyles, President and CEO, America’s Health Insurance Plans: “On behalf of AHIP, I am writing to express support for your bipartisan legislation… Your bill, by removing the benchmark cap, would help preserve the innovative programs and strategies through which Medicare Advantage plans are working to provide value to more than 20 million seniors and individuals with disabilities who rely on this coverage to meet their health care needs.” Read full letter of support HERE.

Todd Lovshin, Vice President and Montana Regional Director, PacificSource: “We are supportive of Medicare Advantage plans and recognize that those plans are held to a high-performance standard that requires significant effort and cost in order to provide better outcomes. The work required from the plans, providers, and members to achieve high quality benchmarks is very difficult and should be rewarded. We thank Sen. Daines for recognizing the benefits to seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans when high quality is rewarded.”

David Howes, MD, President and CE Martin’s Point Health Care in Maine: "As a local, not-for-profit health care organization caring for a population that is rapidly aging in a mostly rural state, we thank Senator Daines and Senator King for introducing this important bill to address the Medicare Advantage Benchmark Cap. If enacted, this effort will unlock quality payments while strengthening care and coverage for our members through enhanced benefits in our Medicare Advantage plans." Letter of support from Howes.

Background:

Today, 17,000 Montanans are being denied the full scope of Medicare benefits they should be receiving.

The Affordable Care Act attempted to provide better benefits for seniors and people with disabilities who are enrolled in the best Medicare Advantage Plans. Unfortunately, the law limited these “bonus payments” from ever reaching beneficiary by putting a “cap” on the payments that these Medicare plans receive.

Daines’ and King’s bill will reverse this unintended consequence of the Affordable Care Act policy.

Reps. Mike Kelly and Ron Kind introduced companion legislation to both bills in the House. The House passed H.R. 4952, the companion to the bill requiring an HHS study, earlier this year.

For a one pager click HERE