Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Improvements to Medicare Health and Drug Plans

AARP Press Release

WASHINGTON—AARP today submitted comments on regulations proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Many of the proposed regulations for Medicare health and prescription drug plans could improve care, lower costs and simplify enrollment for people in Medicare.

AARP Legislative Policy Director David Certner, the author of the comments, said: “We applaud CMS for working to continually improve the Medicare plans that millions of seniors rely on. While we recommend several areas to strengthen these regulations, on the whole, they will simplify and improve the plans available to people in Medicare.”

Excerpts from AARP’s letter to CMS follow:

On simplifying election periods for Medicare health and drug plans: “AARP strongly supports efforts to simplify beneficiary enrollment for Parts C and D. However, AARP is concerned that this change could result in beneficiary confusion and/or missed enrollment opportunities unless it is widely and effectively promoted. Therefore, AARP urges CMS to work with plan sponsors and beneficiary advocates to develop a public education campaign that will help ensure that all beneficiaries are aware of the new dates for the annual coordinated election period. AARP further believes that Congress should put Medicare fee-for-service and MA on a level playing field by creating an open enrollment period that makes all Medigap products available without regard to health status or pre-existing conditions.”

On income-related Part D premiums: “AARP did not support imposing an income-related premium in the Medicare Part D program. AARP has concerns about the potentially adverse effect of the income related Part D premium on the Part D program and its enrollees…. Nevertheless, we commend CMS for its efforts to develop timely regulations to implement the ACA provision. We are particularly supportive of the proposal in the NPRM to give Medicare beneficiaries a 3-month grace period, and an extension of the grace period for good cause, to pay the Part D Income-Related Monthly Adjustment Amount before their coverage could be terminated.”

On eliminating Part D cost-sharing for “dual eligibles” receiving care at home: “AARP supports the promulgation of this provision, which will create equity in Part D cost-sharing between institutionalized full-benefit dual eligibles and full-benefit dual eligibles receiving substantially the same services in the community.”

On Medicare Advantage cost-sharing for covered preventive care: “AARP strongly supports requiring [MA plans], including section 1876 cost plans, to provide preventive benefits at zero cost-sharing. This measure would align policy for the MA program with the FFS Medicare requirements. It makes sense in terms of providing appropriate incentives to MA enrollees to obtain preventive services and should have the longer term effect of improving health outcomes for the Medicare population.”

To obtain a complete copy of AARP’s letter to CMS, please contact AARP Media Relations at 202-434-2560 or
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