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Archive for July 10th, 2008

Ask the President to Veto H.R. 6331 — Medicare Advantage Cuts

On July 9, the Senate passed the Medicare bill (HR 6331) with Medicare Advantage cuts intact. The Senate invoked cloture (69-30), and then passed the bill by voice vote. The President is expected to veto the legislation. While this was a veto-proof cloture vote, it does not necessarily mean the Senate will override a Bush veto.

The bill would block a 10.6 percent cut in doctors’ fees and would increase Medicare payments to doctors by 1.1 percent next year. But the physician increases would be offset by a reduction in payments to private Medicare Advantage plans, a proposal totaling about $13.8 billion over five years.

AHIA-NAIFA Health & Employee Benefits has opposed and continues to oppose these cuts.
Please contact the President today and ask him to veto H.R. 6331 that would negatively impact the choice and cost of health plans for Medicare beneficiaries.

Sample Comments: It always has a greater impact if you use your own words when submitting comments. The following sample language can be used as the text of your email or as a guideline for your phone call:

Dear Mr. President:

The physician payment system needs to be fixed, but not at the expense of the millions of seniors who rely on the quality coverage they receive from Medicare Advantage plans. Please consider the devastating impact these cuts would have on seniors including fewer choices, reduced benefits, and higher out-of-pocket costs.

As an insurance agent who assists seniors in assessing their health care needs and options including Medicare Advantage plans, I know first hand the value these plans provide to Medicare beneficiaries. Not only would this legislation result in more than 2.2 million Medicare beneficiaries facing a disruption in their health care, it would limit choice and increase costs to Medicare beneficiaries. Our seniors deserve better.

Please do not disrupt the beneficial coverage millions of seniors currently enjoy and veto H.R. 6331.

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With the help of Senator Kennedy, the Senate passed the “Baucus version” of the Medicare Bill to cut funding for Medicare Advantage by $13.5 billion over 5 years in order to avert a pending 10.6% cut in Physician’s Medicare fees.

President Bush has promised a veto which he may not deliver on given the House and Senate vote.  Even so, he likely will not win this fight.

The impact of the funding cuts will likely be felt in Medicare Advantage, generally, in 2010. 

While painful, the Medicare Advantage cuts to HMO and PPO products will probably be manageable. 

However, the situation is worse for Private Fee for Service.  Also included in the bill is a requirement that Private Fee for Service (PFFS) plans would be forced to set up their own networks (like a PPO).  This will force some Private Fee for Service insurers to drop their plans, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

I’ll continue to blog on this issue as I hear more from carriers on their analysis of the impact and I’ll also keep you up to date with what I believe will be the proper strategies for insurance agents to take with clients in 2009 and beyond.

Feel free to add your comments below!

Craig

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Effective October 1, 2009, the State of Maryland will amend it’s Code (Ins. Section 10-116) to increase the total number of continuing eduction hours required of insurance producers each renewal period from 16 to 24.  Ethics training must constitute at least 3 hours of the continuing education training.

Active agents with 25 years or more of experience are required to complete 8 CE hours.  For renewal, a veteran agent with 25 or more years of experience must submit an affidavit attesting to her or her continuous licensure and selling of insurance in the State.  This affidavit is to be filed along with proof that the 8 hours of continuing education, as required, has been obtained.

Also of note, the new LTCi initial training requirement of 8 hours and 4 hours of ongoing LTCi training is a distinct requirement from the 16 to 24 CE hour increase, however, the 8 LTCi hours can, of course, be used to fulfill the 24 hours requirement.

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