News Briefs

✦ Medicare Advantage enrollment reached nearly 24.7 million members as of the Jan. 1, 2020, payment date, according to the February enrollment report from CMS, which includes final figures from the Annual Election Period. The February data represents year-over-year MA membership growth of 9.2% (vs. an increase of 4.5% in fee-for-service Medicare) and MA penetration of 36.2%, up from 35.2% a year ago, estimated securities analyst A.J. Rice in a Feb. 17 research note from Credit Suisse. Rice added that the five major managed care organizations account for roughly 61.5% of total MA enrollments, with UnitedHealth Group and Humana Inc. leading the pack in MA membership growth. View the report at https://go.cms.gov/2P979OV. Contact Rice at aj.rice@credit-suisse.com.

✦ A federal appeals court on Feb. 14 unanimously struck down the Trump administration’s decision to allow Arkansas to implement Medicaid work requirements and ruled that HHS’s approval of the “Arkansas Works” program was “arbitrary and capricious.” According to the opinion from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Court (Gresham v. Azar, No. 1:18-cv-01900), a “critical issue” in the case was the HHS secretary’s “failure to account for loss of coverage.” Arkansas Works was implemented in June 2018 and resulted in more than 18,000 Medicaid recipients losing coverage in a six-month period. U.S. District Judge James Boasberg in March 2019 vacated the agency’s approvals of work requirements in Kentucky and Arkansas (RMA 4/4/19, p. 1). HHS appealed the decision, and Kentucky ultimately abandoned its challenged demonstration project. View the ruling at https://bit.ly/38JzGCr.

© 2021 MMIT

Lauren Flynn Kelly Managing Editor, Radar on Medicare Advantage

Lauren has been covering health business issues, including drug benefits and specialty pharmacy, for more than a decade. She served as editor of Drug Benefit News (the predecessor to Radar on Drug Benefits) from 2004 to 2005 and again from 2011 to 2016, and now manages Radar on Medicare Advantage. Lauren graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in English.

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