Press Releases
March 6, 2020
Better Medicare Alliance Urges Fairness for ESRD Patients, Backs Telehealth Reforms in CMS Advance Notice Letter

AMGA, Healthcare Leadership Council, National Black Nurses Association, Population Health Alliance and others join calls for stable, adequate payment to Medicare Advantage for ESRD beneficiaries’ care  

Washington, D.C. – Better Medicare Alliance (BMA), an advocacy and research organization supporting Medicare Advantage, led a diverse coalition of health care leaders in submitting comments to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) responding to the 2021 Medicare Advantage and Part D Advance Notice.

In the letter on behalf of its 143 ally organizations with additional statements from AMGA, ATA, Consumer Action, Health Care Transformation Task Force, Healthcare Leadership Council, National Black Nurses Association, National Minority Quality Forum, and Population Health Alliance, BMA urges CMS to “address the chronic underfunding and fluctuating nature” of payments to Medicare Advantage for end-stage renal disease (ESRD) beneficiaries’ care.

Beginning in 2021, all patients will have the option to enroll in Medicare Advantage after a diagnosis of ESRD. As patients and health care providers await this change, an analysis from Avalere Health found that payments to Medicare Advantage for ESRD patients in highly populated regions “may be significantly below actual patient costs.”

BMA also expressed strong support for telehealth provisions in CMS’s 2021 and 2022 Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D Proposed Rule. By finalizing CMS’s proposal to leverage telehealth to improve network adequacy requirements, BMA writes that CMS can “improve access to Medicare Advantage plans for those in rural and underserved areas … [and] will encourage the use of telehealth services that can better ensure access to services and continuity of care for beneficiaries.”

“On behalf of our 143 Ally organizations and 460,00 beneficiary advocates, Better Medicare Alliance is proud to stand up for all 24 million beneficiaries by championing payment and policy changes that are needed to meet the needs of vulnerable ESRD patients, while also working to finalize language that embraces the technology-enabled tools that are already improving access to care and lowering costs for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries across the country,” said Allyson Y. Schwartz, President and CEO of the Better Medicare Alliance. “By ensuring appropriate, stable payment for ESRD beneficiaries’ care and using the potential of telehealth to allow more individuals to partake in Medicare Advantage’s success, CMS can offer security to MA beneficiaries of today, and a bright future for the enrollees of tomorrow.”

BMA Ally organizations voiced their support:

“As we look ahead to 2021, when ESRD patients will become newly eligible for Medicare Advantage, CMS must set parameters that give this policy the best chance to succeed. This includes addressing payment disparities that shortchange Medicare Advantage and disproportionately impact people of color,” said Dr. Martha A. Dawson, President, National Black Nurses Association. “National Black Nurses Association joins Better Medicare Alliance in working to ensure fair, stable payment to Medicare Advantage for ESRD beneficiaries’ care while also working to maintain language in the Medicare Advantage proposed rule that supports all beneficiaries – especially those in rural and underserved areas – by supporting the use of telehealth in determining network adequacy requirements.”

“Telehealth and virtual care technologies not only improve access to care and convenience for patients, but also reduce costs. We applaud CMS for including provisions in its Medicare Advantage proposed rule that embrace these realities by allowing providers accessed via telehealth to count toward network adequacy requirements,” said Ann Mond Johnson, CEO, ATA. “We stand with stakeholders across the health care spectrum in urging CMS to maintain this language as part of its final rule. Telehealth is health and Medicare policy should allow this important solution to do more good for more people.”

“As an organization committed to empowering underrepresented consumers nationwide, Consumer Action is proud to advocate for the 500,000 Medicare beneficiaries living with end-stage renal disease (ESRD). We join all who are insisting on stable, predictable payment to Medicare Advantage that reflects the true costs of these individuals’ care. ESRD patients deserve nothing less,” said Linda Sherry, Director of National Priorities for Consumer Action. Consumer Action further applauds CMS for protecting beneficiaries in rural and hard-to-reach areas by incentivizing greater use of telehealth in its proposed rule. Telehealth is paramount to ensuring that no consumer’s zip code dictates their ability to access quality care. We support maintaining language around telehealth and network adequacy requirements in the final Medicare Advantage rule.”

Read BMA’s full letter to CMS HERE.

See additional comments from BMA Ally organizations including AMGAHealth Care Transformation Task Force, Healthcare Leadership CouncilNational Minority Quality Forum, and Population Health Alliance in Attachment D (pages 16-17).

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