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Congressman Mike Thompson

Representing the 5th District of CALIFORNIA

THOMPSON’S BIPARTISAN BILL TO STRENGTHEN MEDICARE ADVANTAGE PASSES THE HOUSE

Jun 18, 2015
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) today announced that his bipartisan legislation to improve the Medicare Advantage (MA) program for seniors passed the House by voice vote. The Increasing Regulatory Fairness Act (H.R. 2507), co-authored by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX) would expand an annual comment period for proposed payment rates and regulatory changes for MA plans.

“This legislation will double the time that stakeholders have to provide constructive feedback on Medicare Advantage rates and policy changes,” said Thompson. “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.”

Each year, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) publishes its Medicare Advantage call letter and rate notice, which outlines payment rates and changes for the nearly 2,000 plans that serve our MA population. Nearly 10 years ago, the call letter and rate notice were less than 20 pages long. However, since then, enrollment in Medicare Advantage has nearly tripled from 5.4 million to 16 million, Medicare Advantage policy has become more complex, and the call letter and rate notice has grown to more than 150 pages. At the same time, the time between the publishing of the draft notice and the final notice, which is currently 45 days, has remained unchanged. 

During this 45-day period, in which there are only 15 days to comment on the proposed changes in the program, stakeholders are expected to review 150 pages of regulatory changes, and understand the impacts of the proposed policy changes on a program that provides medical care to over a third of Medicare beneficiaries. The small timeframe also deprives CMS of thoughtful, constructive feedback that is necessary to improve a program on which seniors rely.

H.R. 2507 will expand the current cycle from 45 to 60 days, allowing for 30 full days – or double the current time allowed – to analyze and provide feedback on the draft call letter and rate notice.

 

Congressman Mike Thompson is proud to represent California’s 5th Congressional District, which includes all or part of Contra Costa, Lake, Napa, Solano and Sonoma Counties.  He is a senior member of the House Ways and Means Committee. Rep. Thompson is also a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and chairs the bipartisan, bicameral Congressional Wine Caucus.

 

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