Press Releases

Hickenlooper, Bennet Urge Biden Administration to Continue Support for Medicare Advantage Program

Feb 6, 2023

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators John Hickenlooper and Michael Bennet joined a bipartisan group of 57 of their Senate colleagues in a letter to Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Chiquita Brooks-LaSure encouraging the agency to continue its support for the Medicare Advantage Program, which provides health care to millions of seniors and individuals with disabilities across the country.

“The number of Americans who choose Medicare Advantage continues to grow each year, with enrollment doubling over the last decade, resulting in Medicare Advantage serving nearly 50 percent of individuals eligible for Medicare,” the Senators wrote. “…In 2023, average Medicare Advantage premiums will fall to a 16-year low of $18 per month and beneficiaries will have access to vital financial protections, including out-of-pocket spending limits and often prescription drug coverage for no additional premium.”

The Senators also urged “CMS to look at meaningful ways to continue to sustain and strengthen Medicare Advantage that protects beneficiaries’ affordability and access and builds on the unique attributes of Medicare Advantage.”

Nearly 30 million patients nationwide rely on Medicare Advantage for affordable, high-quality health care. Medicare Advantage is the private-sector bundled alternative to traditional Medicare that boasts lower out-of-pocket costs than traditional Medicare, and can include additional benefits like coverage for vision and dental. Hickenlooper and Bennet emphasized in the letter that CMS must prioritize a stable rate and policy environment to strengthen the long-term sustainability of the program that Coloradans have come to rely on.

The full text of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear Administrator Brooks-LaSure:

We write to express our bipartisan support for the Medicare Advantage program and the high-quality care it provides to nearly 30 million older adults and individuals with disabilities.[1] The number of Americans who choose Medicare Advantage continues to grow each year, with enrollment doubling over the last decade, resulting in Medicare Advantage serving nearly 50 percent of individuals eligible for Medicare. We appreciate your ongoing commitment to preserving and strengthening this critical choice for current and future Medicare beneficiaries. As the Administration considers updates to the program for plan year 2024, we urge you to ensure that any proposed payment and policy changes enable Medicare Advantage to continue providing the affordable, high-quality care our constituents rely on every day.

Medicare Advantage offers affordable coverage, with beneficiaries reporting spending nearly $2,000 less on out-of-pocket costs and premiums annually compared to fee-for-service Medicare.[2] In 2023, average Medicare Advantage premiums will fall to a 16-year low of $18 per month and beneficiaries will have access to vital financial protections, including out-of-pocket spending limits and often prescription drug coverage for no additional premium.[3] With 53 percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees living on less than $25,000 per year[4] , combined with increasing pressures on Americans’ budgets, it is critical that older adults and individuals with disabilities continue to have stable access to these cost protections that are only available in Medicare Advantage.

The Medicare Advantage program allows for plans to focus on prevention and care coordination, which results in better health outcomes. Additionally, the program supports an increasingly diverse population with varied health and socioeconomic backgrounds. In addition, the design of the Medicare Advantage program enables plans to address health-related social needs of such populations like food insecurity or lack of transportation, enhance the focus on primary care, and provide access to telehealth services and in-home care.

Looking to the future, we believe every Medicare beneficiary should receive clear, accurate, and timely information about their coverage options. We support robust oversight and regulation of advertising and marketing practices in Medicare Advantage, and building on new rules that went into effect for the 2023 open enrollment period, we urge CMS to continue to enforce stronger oversight of third-party marketing organizations. We also urge CMS to look at meaningful ways to continue to sustain and strengthen Medicare Advantage that protects beneficiaries’ affordability and access and builds on the unique attributes of Medicare Advantage.

We are committed to our nearly 30 million constituents across the United States who rely on Medicare Advantage, and to maintaining access to the affordable, high-quality care they currently receive. We ask that the Administration provide a stable rate and policy environment for Medicare Advantage that will strengthen and ensure the long-term sustainability of the program—protecting access to its important benefits on which our constituents have come to rely.

We look forward to partnering with you to ensure that, through Medicare Advantage, tens of millions of older adults and individuals with disabilities continue to have access to comprehensive, affordable Medicare coverage choices.

Sincerely,

 ###


[1] Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). (November 2022). Monthly Contract and Enrollment Summary Report. https://www.cms.gov/Research-Statistics-Data-and-Systems/Statistics-Trends-and-Reports/MCRAdvPartDEnrolData/Monthly-Contractand-Enrollment-Summary-Report

[2] TI Advisory. (April 2022). Medicare Advantage Outperforms Fee-For-Service Medicare on Cost Protections for Low-Income and Diverse Populations. https://atiadvisory.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/05/BMA-Medicare-Advantage-Cost-Protections-Data-Brief.pdf

[3] CMS. (September 29, 2022). Biden-Harris Administration Announces Lower Premiums for Medicare Advantage and Prescription Drug Plans in 2023. https://www.cms.gov/newsroom/press-releases/biden-harris-administration-announces-lower-premiums-medicareadvantage-and-prescription-drug-plans

[4] TI Advisory. Medicare Advantage Outperforms Fee-For-Service Medicare.

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