As the 2024 Annual Election Period approaches, Medicare Advantage insurers that began marketing on Oct. 1 have been touting service area expansions and/or the robust provider networks attached to their plans. But in the months and, in some cases, days leading up to the Oct. 15 start of open enrollment, some high-profile contract negotiations have played out in a very public way, with providers expressing their frustration with administrative delays, care denials and less-than-adequate rates. And the loss of key providers could have serious consequences from a network adequacy standpoint, even leading to an enrollment freeze if MA organizations are not careful, warns one compliance expert.
On top of concerns about overly burdensome prior authorization policies used by MA organizations, “providers are getting squeezed” from both sides, remarks Jane Scott, executive vice president of special projects for Rebellis Group. “Providers are getting squeezed on the fee-for-service, CMS side for their reduction in fee reimbursement. And then the health plans also want to reduce reimbursement for savings on their own part, while trying to stay competitive. And in doing that, they may have to reduce their service area size, their network offering, different things…and so that causes some market change.”