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Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) recently sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Seema Verma, urging the Administration “to be better stewards of taxpayer dollars and conduct sufficient oversight of Medicare Advantage plans, to ensure they are appropriately managing the health care needs of older Americans and people with disabilities” according to a press release issued by Senator Brown’s office dated September 17, 2019. Senator Brown was joined on the letter by Sens. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Bernie Sanders (D-VT), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Chris Murphy (D-CT).

The letter calls on the Administration to increase oversight and enforcement over Medicare Advantage (MA) plans on a range of issues, including inappropriate overbilling (estimated to be at least $30 billion over the last 3 years), accuracy of plan provider directories, and performance problems including denial rates. As noted in the letter, “CMS’ own audits have found ‘widespread and persistent [Medicare Advantage] performance problems related to denials of care and payment’ and Medicare Advantage plans that ‘threaten the health and safety of their members.’”

The Center for Medicare Advocacy continues to try to draw policymakers’ attention to the MA program’s growing imbalance with traditional Medicare. The lack of adequate oversight over the MA program exacerbates such imbalance by failing to hold plans accountable to their enrollees and taxpayers. The Center applauds Senator Brown and his co-signers, and join them in urging CMS to improve oversight and enforcement.

September 19, 2019 – D. Lipschutz

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