Medicare Advantage seniors must be protected, lawmakers tell HHS

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 14, 2010

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Several Democratic congressional leaders wrote to the Health and Human Services secretary on June 3, urging her to review Medicare Advantage plan bids for 2011 closely.

The group -- which includes Senate Finance Committee Chair Max Baucus (D, Mont.), House Ways and Means Committee Chair Sander Levin (D, Mich.) and House Energy and Commerce Committee Chair Henry Waxman (D, Calif.) -- encouraged HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to require insurance companies to justify any proposed changes in premiums or benefits for seniors in Medicare Advantage plans for 2011. They said such a rigorous review would protect seniors from the kind of unjustified premium increases that were initially proposed by WellPoint in California for 2011.

WellPoint said that initial projection was a result of medical cost trend assumptions that were based on a flawed calculation. "As soon as that error was brought to our attention, we put those rate filings on hold to ensure we are taking care of the patients and members we serve," said Jon Mills, a WellPoint spokesman.

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