For a second time, Americas Health Insurance Plans launched a pre-emptive strike against critics of Medicare Advantage plans the day before a major congressional hearing where the plans could be under attack.
The program has been an important safety net for low-income and minority beneficiaries, said Karen Ignagni, AHIPs president and chief executive officer, during a news conference to recap findings from a February report that found 49% of all Medicare Advantage enrollees in 2004 had incomes of less than $20,000. Sixty-eight percent of all minority beneficiaries had incomes below this amount, she said.
The Congressional Budget Office and Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, however, may dispute those findings at Wednesdays Senate Finance Committee hearing. These groups, in addition to a recent report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, have contended that Medicare on average pays 12% more with Medicare Advantage than it does for traditional fee-for-service Medicare.
The center also concluded that Medicaid, not Medicare Advantage, was the main form of supplemental coverage for low-income and minority Medicare beneficiaries.
AHIP in March had released favorable data on the Medicare Advantage plans before the House Ways and Means Committee took up the issue the next day. -- by Jennifer Lubell