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The PJ Tatler

by
Bridget Johnson

Bio

October 24, 2013 - 7:37 am

Connecticut Democrats are protesting one healthcare company’s termination of thousands of providers for Medicare Advantage just days before the open enrollment period begins.

The administration’s “Top 5 things to know about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) if you have Medicare” tries to reassure Medicare recipients that Obamacare “ensures the protection of Medicare for years to come,” increases doctor support and preventive services, and offers drug savings.

“Medicare isn’t part of the Health Insurance Marketplace established by ACA, so you don’t have to replace your Medicare coverage with Marketplace coverage. No matter how you get Medicare, whether through Original Medicare or a Medicare Advantage Plan, you’ll still have the same benefits and security you have now,” the Medicare site says.

United Healthcare Group recently reduced Medicare providers in New York by about 1,000 and the Connecticut Dems fear the cuts in their state will impact some 32,000 residents.

“UHG has long been an important part of Connecticut’s health insurance market, and we value your dedication to providing health insurance to the people of Connecticut and across the country. However, we have heard from our constituents who are very concerned about the effects that terminating so many physicians from the UHG MA plan could have for Medicare beneficiaries in the state,” said the letter to CEO Jack Larsen.

Signing the letter were Sens. Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, and Reps. Rosa DeLauro, John Larson, Joe Courtney, Jim Himes, and Elizabeth Esty.

“We would like to better understand the process of notification by UHG that was made to your Connecticut participants and physicians in compliance with CMS requirements for notice. We also need a better understanding of how network adequacy requirements will be met despite the sudden drop of what appears to be nearly one quarter of UHG’s MA provider network,” they wrote. “This significant reduction in physicians raises many concerns about whether people who have chosen to participate in the UHG program will have adequate time to make informed decisions about their Medicare coverage before the open Medicare enrollment period closes on December 7.”

“We understand that UHG has similarly streamlined provider networks in other states, including a reduction of approximately 1,000 providers in the network in New York. Because the UHG MA plans in Connecticut currently serve around 32,000 members who may potentially be affected by this decision, we appreciate your efforts to ensure that these beneficiaries will continue to have options for using their chosen providers within the MA plans or have appropriate notice to switch back to traditional Medicare before the end of the enrollment period.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said in an Aug. 1 floor speech that the expected hit to Medicare Advantage was a key reason to oppose Obamacare.

“The chances are that soon [seniors] will open up the mail to the bad news that your Medicare Advantage … has been changed in a negative way for you because of Obamacare,’’ he said.

Medicare Advantage currently covers more than 14 million seniors and disabled. The plans that offer seniors more choice and flexibility have consistently been on the chopping block in the Obama administration as it considers cuts. Obamacare axes about $200 billion from Medicare Advantage over the next few years.

 

 

Bridget Johnson is a veteran journalist whose news articles and opinion columns have run in dozens of news outlets across the globe. Bridget first came to Washington to be online editor at The Hill, where she wrote The World from The Hill column on foreign policy. Previously she was an opinion writer and editorial board member at the Rocky Mountain News and nation/world news columnist at the Los Angeles Daily News. She is an NPR contributor and has contributed to USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, National Review Online, Politico and more, and has myriad television and radio credits as a commentator. Bridget is Washington Editor for PJ Media.

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