Bill would extend life of low-rated Medicare Advantage drug plans

From: The Herald Tribune

By Maggie Clark

About 10,000 Southwest Florida seniors are enrolled in two poorly rated Medicare Advantage prescription drug plans that could be on the chopping block.

But U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, says he wants to make sure those seniors have more time to find a new plan before the low-rated plans disappear.

A bill Buchanan sponsored, known as the “Seniors’ Health Care Plan Protection Act of 2015,” would let low-performing Medicare plans continue to be sold until the end of 2018, instead of the current 2015 deadline.

Buchanan’s bill, which passed the House Ways and Means Committee this month and will likely be voted on in coming weeks by the full U.S. House of Representatives, would give seniors more time to find alternative coverage, and for Medicare to refine what Buchanan calls a “flawed” star rating system.

The legislation is strongly supported by the health care industry, which has donated to Buchanan and his co-sponsors’ campaigns.

“Our thought is to slow (the cancellation) process down and re-look at the ratings system so that people could stay in their plans,” Buchanan said in an interview this week with the Herald-Tribune. “I’ve had seniors say that they didn’t want to lose their plan, even though maybe the federal government doesn’t think it should be available. Our thought is that we think that that maybe the system is flawed, or maybe part of it that isn’t working, and we want to be able to slow that process down so people can stay in their plans.”

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