Why No One Likes This Proposed Medicare Rule Change

The Obama Administration is accepting comments through today about proposed rule to transform the Medicare Advantage and Medicare Prescription Drug Program.

The interesting angle: Not very many people seem too thrilled about the change.

The regulation eliminates choices for seniors, raises seniors’ premiums and drug costs and does great harm to agent commissions.  The National Association of Health Underwriters (NAHU) recently sent a letter to CMS asking it to withdraw the rule entirely, as it:

  • Changes people’s access to life-saving medicines
  • restricts limits seniors’ choice of providers
  • Severely limits seniors’ ability to buy the plans of their choice
  • Also limits seniors’ ability to seek the services of licensed health insurance agents to help them with their coverage needs.
  • Impact the ability of all beneficiaries to seek the services of a certified agent.

Democrats and Republicans in Congress alike are aghast at the breadth and scope of this unprecedented overreach by CMS. As a response, HR 4160 (the “Keep The Promise to Seniors Act”) was introduced in the House last week to repeal the rule.  Bipartisan Senate interest in action on this issue over is also significant.

Last week, the entire membership of the Senate Finance Committee — everyone from new Chairman Ron Wyden (D-OR) to Ranking Member Orrin Hatch (R-UT) — also sent CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner a letter asking her to pull the rule for the damage it could cause to popular and successful coverage options.

House leadership intends to put HR 4160 on the floor sometime in the very near future.


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