Looming Request for Supplemental Benefits Data Opens ‘Pandora’s Box’ for MAOs

Plans participating in the Medicare Advantage Value-Based Insurance Design (VBID) Model next year must begin reporting beneficiary-level utilization data on three key supplemental benefit categories: food, transportation, and general supports for living (e.g., utilities assistance). That requirement was included in a 2024 request for applications released late last year, and CMS officials have since hinted that the agency is interested in gathering additional information about supplemental benefit usage from the MA industry at large. But in a move that flew largely under the radar, the agency in September issued a proposal to begin requiring all MA organizations to submit information about supplemental benefits at a greater level of detail than some plans may be able to provide at this time, industry experts tell AIS Health, a division of MMIT.

Supplemental benefits have been on the rise since plan year 2019, when CMS’s reinterpreted definition of “primary health-related” enabled MAOs to include benefits like adult day health services, support for caregivers of enrollees and therapeutic massage in their plan benefit packages (PBPs). And with the passage of the CHRONIC Care Act of 2018, MA plans in 2020 began offering Special Supplemental Benefits for the Chronically Ill (SSBCI), a category of “non-primarily health related” items and services that can be made available to certain beneficiaries.

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Lauren Flynn Kelly

Lauren Flynn Kelly Managing Editor, Radar on Medicare Advantage

Lauren has been covering health business issues since the early 2000s and specializes in in-depth reporting on Medicare Advantage, managed Medicaid and Medicare Part D. She also possesses a deep understanding of the complex world of pharmacy benefit management, having written AIS Health’s Radar on Drug Benefits from 2004 to 2005 and again from 2011 to 2016. In addition to her role as managing editor of Radar on Medicare Advantage, she oversees AIS Health’s publications and manages the health editorial staff. She graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in English.

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