News Briefs: CMS Reinterprets ‘Marketing’ Definition, Expands Materials Subject to Review

As CMS continues to tighten oversight of misleading marketing activities, the agency will soon require Medicare Advantage organizations to file all materials that mention any type of benefit. In a May 10 memo from the Medicare Drug & Health Plan Contract Administration Group, CMS explained that while it previously interpreted the mentioning of widely available benefits (e.g., vision, dental, premium reductions) as “general descriptions” that were not “made with sufficient intent to draw attention to a particular plan or subset of plans” and lead to an enrollment decision “without information on the associated costs for enrollees,” complaints received through various channels have indicated otherwise. Therefore, CMS is expanding its interpretation of “marketing” to “include content that mentions any type of benefit covered by the plan and is intended to draw a beneficiary’s attention to plan or plans, influence a beneficiary’s decision-making process when selecting a plan, or influence a beneficiary’s decision to stay enrolled in a plan (that is, retention-based marketing) and thus subject to review.” As such, the agency will require any material or activity that is distributed by any means and mentions any benefit to be submitted into the Health Plan Management System effective July 10.

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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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