Medicare Advantage Plans Draw Attention

News outlets examine several issues dealing with Medicare Advantage plans.

The Boston Globe: “Harvard Pilgrim Health Care has notified customers that it will drop its Medicare Advantage health insurance program at the end of the year, forcing 22,000 senior citizens in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine to seek alternative supplemental coverage.” The reason is that federal reimbursements for such plans have been frozen, and Harvard’s particular Advantage product, a private fee-for-service plan, would have to develop a network of contracted providers for the first time under the new rules (Weisman, 9/28).

Also in Advantage news, PolitiFact examines a claim by former New York governor and health overhaul repeal advocate George Pataki that Florida seniors get a special deal on planned Medicare Advantage cuts. The conclusion: Pataki is wrong. “Congress is scaling back the payments to Medicare Advantage plans to bring them more in line on average to what is paid in Medicare. But it’s too soon to say what that means for the average senior in various parts of the country while the reductions are being phased in over a few years” (Sherman, 9/28).

In other Medicare news, Crain’s Detroit Business reports, “A pilot project begun last year to reduce hospital readmissions is being expanded this month to all of Michigan’s 144 hospitals, according to the Michigan Health and Hospital Association. The purpose of the four-year study — called the State Action on Avoidable Rehospitalizations, or MISTAAR — is to reduce avoidable readmissions by 30 percent, save millions of dollars in unnecessary costs and improve quality and patient safety” (Greene, 9/27).

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