Washington, D.C. – Better Medicare Alliance (BMA) President and CEO Allyson Y. Schwartz released the following statement in response to the introduction of legislation in the U.S. Senate, a companion bill to H.R. 908 and H.R. 4952 in the US House, to eliminate the benchmark cap, a provision that inadvertently penalizes Medicare Advantage plans for providing high-quality care to Medicare beneficiaries:
“The benchmark cap on high-quality care enabled by Medicare Advantage is unfairly impacting millions of Medicare beneficiaries today. In 2018 with over four million beneficiaries in 4-Star or higher plans being denied enhanced benefits, including reduced cost sharing – a number that has grown nearly 100% in the last two years.
“In Medicare Advantage, the Star Ratings System rewards high-quality plans with a 4-Star rating or higher (on a 5-Star scale) with a bonus payment that must be used to directly benefit beneficiaries by reducing beneficiary cost sharing or adding benefits such as dental or vision coverage. However, the benchmark cap policy prevents 4-Star or higher plans in certain counties from receiving the bonus payment they have earned. Four million beneficiaries are denied supplemental benefits enabled by the quality incentives because of where they live..
“On behalf of our community of 115 ally organizations and nearly 400,000 Medicare Advantage beneficiaries, we strongly urge Congress to take action to approve Senate legislation to eliminate the benchmark cap and allow millions of Americans access to benefits they deserve.
“We commend Senators Steve Daines (R-MT) and Angus King (I-ME) for being true champions in the Senate for seniors and people with disabilities on Medicare Advantage.