Acting CMS Administrator Kerry Weems strongly defended his agencys stepped-up oversight of abusive sales tactics within the Medicare Advantage program even while a Senate panel remained skeptical and hinted at legislative fixes rather than regulatory ones.
At the outset, I want to indicate my unequivocal commitment to protecting people with Medicare from potential marketing abuses and to ensuring that beneficiaries have the information they need to make informed choices about their healthcare, Weems told members of the Senate Finance Committee.
Since September 2007, the CMS has implemented a number of enforcement tools meant to snuff out the shady sales and marketing tactics used by some agents to move seniors from traditional Medicare into more Medicare Advantage plans, including a secret shopper program that netted close to 700 violations. But committee chairman Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) said he was not swayed, adding that the high number of violations is proof that the agencys oversight wasnt forceful enough.
Baucus has pledged to draft a Medicare bill this year that would include Medicare Advantage reforms. -- by Matthew DoBias
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