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Ways & Means, Energy & Commerce Members Introduce Bipartisan Bills to Strengthen Medicare Advantage Program

May 21, 2015

WASHINGTON — Today, members on both sides of the aisle of the House Ways and Means Committee and the House Energy and Commerce Committee introduced four bills to improve the Medicare Advantage (MA) program for seniors. The four bipartisan bills are:

  • H.R. 2506, the Seniors’ Health Care Plan Protection Act of 2015, introduced by Ways and Means members Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-FL) and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) and Energy and Commerce member Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), would delay the authority to terminate MA contracts for plans failing to achieve minimum quality ratings under the Medicare Advantage STARS rating system.
  • H.R. 2505, the Medicare Advantage Coverage Transparency Act of 2015, introduced by Ways and Means members Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA) and Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) and Energy and Commerce member Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), would require annual reporting of enrollment data in MA plans.
  • H.R. 2507, the Increasing Regulatory Fairness Act of 2015, introduced by Ways and Means members Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX)—chairman of the Health Subcommittee—and Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) and Energy and Commerce member Rep. Joe Pitts (R-PA), would expand an annual regulatory schedule for MA payment rates.
  • H.R. 2488, the Medicare Beneficiary Preservation of Choice Act of 2015, introduced by Ways and Means member Rep. Brady, Rep. Keith Rothfus (R-PA), and Energy and Commerce members Rep. Susan Brooks (R-IN), and Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), would restore the second Medicare open enrollment period and disenrollment opportunities.

In introducing H.R. 2506, Rep. Buchanan issued the following statement:

“This bill will ensure that seniors across the country are able to keep the care and benefits they choose because the plans fit their needs. On behalf of the more than 54,000 seniors in my district who are enrolled in this vital program, I urge my colleagues to pass the Seniors Health Care Plan Protection Act.”

Echoing his support, Rep. Rangel added:

“We have an obligation to care for the elderly and ensure that they have access to quality medical care. Medicare Advantage Plans have provided millions of older Americans the option to choose the proper Medicare plan that they need. I am proud to join this bipartisan effort in strengthening this vital program that will continue to secure our seniors’ health and their peace of mind.”

In introducing H.R. 2505, Rep. Kelly issued the following statement:

“Today I am proud to join my colleagues in introducing commonsense legislation to provide greater transparency on enrollment information in Medicare Advantage health plans. With improved access to annual enrollment data, policymakers will be able to make more informed decisions on behalf of America’s seniors in Pennsylvania and across our country.”    

Rep. Kind added:

“As we work to increase transparency and efficiency in programs like Medicare Advantage we need the most up-to-date information on enrollment. This legislation increases transparency and ensures Congress is provided the most accurate and comprehensive information to guide their decision making.”

In introducing H.R. 2507, Rep. Brady issued the following statement:

“This legislation will require stakeholders to have the necessary time to comment on newly proposed rules to ensure the Medicare Advantage program continues to provide low-cost, competitive health insurance options to our seniors. Now more than ever Congress must work together to strengthen and preserve the Medicare Advantage program for the millions of seniors that rely on it for their health insurance and protect the program for future generations.”

Rep. Thompson added:

“This legislation will double the time that stakeholders have to provide constructive feedback on Medicare Advantage rates. As more Medicare beneficiaries sign up for Medicare Advantage, it is important that stakeholders have time to provide thoughtful input so that access to Medicare Advantage plans can keep pace with the growing number of enrollees.”

In introducing H.R. 2488, Rep. Rothfus issued the following statement:

“Western Pennsylvanians and seniors across the country have come to rely on Medicare Advantage thanks in large part to its proven track record of success.  It only makes sense that we should work to preserve it and expand seniors’ choices. My commonsense legislation reinstates the annual open-enrollment period that previously allowed seniors to change plans if they determined theirs was not working for them. Allowing seniors to test-drive their coverage is a simple way we can ensure that they have access to the doctors and services they need. I thank Congressman Schrader for joining me in this important effort, and the Ways and Means Committee for their commitment to advancing reforms that will improve the Medicare Advantage program for the 16 million seniors who depend on it.”

Rep. Schrader added:

“Choosing a health plan that’s right for you can be a complicated process, especially for seniors who have specific medical needs. Senior citizens have worked their entire lives with the understanding that access to quality health care will be there for them when they need it. It makes sense to allow them the opportunity to find a plan that works for them, and if they need to make changes, they have the option to do so. This bipartisan legislation gives seniors the flexibility they need, and I’m optimistic Congress will restore this open enrollment period.”