News Briefs: MedPAC Member Says MA Report Smacks of ‘Attack Journalism’

A recent status report on the Medicare Advantage program presented by analysts with the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission led one MedPAC member to accuse leadership of producing a negative report for partisan political purposes. According to a MedPage Today writeup of a recent MedPAC public meeting, Brian Miller, M.D., of Johns Hopkins University said the report “appears to be slanted to arrive at a foregone conclusion in order to set up and provide political cover” before CMS issues its annual rate notice and “reads like attack journalism.” The report, which was presented on Jan. 12, showed that national market concentration in MA is nearing the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index (HHI) “highly concentrated” threshold, which the Dept. of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission use to review mergers. According to the presentation, the three largest MA insurers combined enroll 58% of MA members and in a typical market enroll roughly 80% of beneficiaries. That report also suggested that MA coding continues to generate excess payments relative to fee-for-service Medicare. Specifically, the MedPAC analysis of CMS enrollment and risk score files estimated that coding intensity will drive payments to MA organizations of $54 billion this year, up from $47 billion in 2023. “It is not lost on me that this discussion is occurring immediately prior to the CMS Medicare Advantage rate notice,” stated Miller, according to a transcript of the meeting. “The Chair has noted that he is in regular communication with CMS leadership. This gives the appearance that MedPAC as an independent and thoughtful policy organization is being hijacked for partisan political aims.” CMS’s annual preliminary rate notice is due out by Feb. 1.

© 2024 MMIT
Lauren Flynn Kelly

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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