Published On: Fri, Mar 14th, 2014

Rahall Report

Weighing in on Medicare advantage

Joining a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) Wednesday urged the Obama Administration and private-sector insurers to find a way to work together in protecting Medicare benefits and seniors’ access to care.

“With the Administration proposing to change payment rates for insurance companies under Medicare Advantage and those same companies threatening, in turn, to cut benefits and narrow network providers for beneficiaries, seniors are unfairly caught in the middle. That is why I am urging everyone to take a step back. Our responsibility to protect the Medicare benefits promised to seniors is a moral one, and something that I will never turn away from,” said Rahall.

Rahall has strenuously opposed cuts in Medicare benefits. He has stood firmly against Republican efforts to replace traditional Medicare with a voucher system. This week he signed a letter with Republican and Democratic House Members to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator urging CMS to forgo proposed reductions in Medicare Advantage payments to private health insurance companies.

Under Medicare, seniors may enroll in the traditional fee-for-service program, or receive their covered benefits through private health insurance companies offering Medicare Advantage plans. In February, Medicare proposed changes in payment rates for Medicare Advantage plans, which Rahall opposes.

“The Administration has tried to go down this road before, prompting insurance companies to launch ad campaigns scaring seniors. Previously, the Administration wisely reversed course, and I am pushing for the same sensible reversal this time around, too. Medicare is crucial to helping ensure that seniors, especially those on fixed incomes, have access to quality and affordable medical care, and can retire and live in dignity. We cannot play political games with that moral commitment,” said Rahall.

In West Virginia, according to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, there are roughly 478,000 Medicare beneficiaries, nearly 109,000 of whom are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.