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Brady Applauds Growing Enrollment and Lower Premiums in Medicare Advantage and Part D

October 02, 2018

Washington, D.C. – Today, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) released the following statement after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the annual Medicare Advantage and Part D Landscape, which found enrollment in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans is projected to hit a record high next year, seniors will have access to more plan options, and average premiums for these plans and Medicare Part D plans are set to decrease for the second consecutive year:

“Working together with the Trump Administration, this Republican Congress has taken substantial steps to increase competition and reduce costs for patients across the country.  This announcement from CMS shows we are achieving just that: more seniors than ever before are enrolling in MA plans and premiums are continuing to go down–including for prescription drug plans.

“By focusing on restoring balance to the marketplace, reducing red tape, and embracing a truly value-based and patient-centered health care system, Republicans are making health care more affordable so that Medicare works on behalf of patients and their needs, not Washington and its mandates.”

Background: CMS announced that average 2019 MA premiums will decrease.  Additionally, the majority of enrollees that remain in their current MA plan will experience no premium increase, over 26 percent will see a decrease in premiums, and close to half will have a zero premium plan in 2019.  Seniors will also see increased access and choice as the number of plan options will increase by 600 from about 3,100 in 2018 to about 3,700 in 2019.

One report recently estimated that Obamacare’s health insurer tax would increase annual premiums $255 per Medicare Advantage member (including Special Needs Plans and Employer Group Waiver Plans) in 2018.  Increased competition and relief this tax for plan year 2019 are key factors contributing to the average MA premium decrease next year.

In addition to lower premiums, beneficiaries will also benefit from increased access to services as a result of actions taken by Congress this year through the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 and by the Administration through the CY 2019 Policy and Technical Changes to the Medicare Advantage and Part D Prescription Drug Benefit Program Final Rule (CMS-4182-F).

Specifically, Congress granted new flexibilities to plans to offer additional benefits through supplemental offerings, as well as more patient-specific benefits.  As a result, millions of enrollees will receive new types of supplemental benefits.  Some examples of how the plans will utilize their new flexibilities include offering adult day care services, in-home and caregiver support services, reduced cost sharing, and additional benefits for enrollees with certain conditions such as diabetes and congestive heart failure.  More plans are expected to take action on these added flexibilities in plan year 2020.