By February 21, 2013 • BeneftisPro

America’s Health Insurance Plans is pushing back against proposed
cuts to Medicare Advantage payments, saying it will put those patients
at risk.

The Obama administration proposed the 2 percent cut late last week.

AHIP said Thursday payment changes will especially hurt low-income
and minority seniors. The organization also slammed the timing, saying
an additional cut to Medicare Advantage payments next year is especially
harmful when the program is already facing “significant payment cuts
and a new health insurance tax included in the health care reform
law.”

Medicare Advantage is the part of Medicare through which private
health plans provide comprehensive medical coverage to seniors and other
Medicare beneficiaries. More than 14 million Americans—or roughly 28
percent of all Medicare beneficiaries—are enrolled in a Medicare
Advantage plan because of the good services, high-quality care and
additional benefits these plans provide, AHIP says.

AHIP researchers say that that Medicare Advantage plans are more
effective than the fee-for-service part of Medicare at addressing
crucial patient care issues, including reducing preventable hospital
readmissions, increasing primary care visits and managing chronic
illnesses.

“Medicare Advantage is a lifeline for millions of low-income and
minority Medicare beneficiaries who rely on the high-quality coverage
and innovative programs and services these plans provide,” AHIP
President and CEO Karen Ignagni said in a statement.

AHIP’s research also notes that Medicare Advantage plans are most
popular among black and Hispanic seniors. About 41 percent of Medicare
beneficiaries with Medicare Advantage coverage had incomes of $20,000 or
less. By comparison, 37 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries had
incomes of $20,000 or less.