Sacramento, CA — Recent legislative and regulatory changes to the rules governing the marketing of Medicare private plans have improved consumer protections relating to marketing misconduct, but still fall short of curing systemic and ongoing problems impacting Medicare beneficiaries, according to a report released recently by California Health Advocates (CHA). This report is entitled The Price is Right: The Selling of Medicare – New Marketing Rules Fail to Cure Problems in the Medicare Marketplace (download PDF).
After providing a brief overview of recent changes to the regulation of Medicare Advantage and Part D plan sales, the brief explores unresolved systemic issues that prevent adequate oversight of the Medicare marketplace, including federal law that preempts state regulatory authority, and the lack of adequate enforcement at the federal level. The brief then explores selected new marketing rules and highlights their corresponding loopholes and other limitations, and provides recommendations to better protect consumers from marketing abuses. An appendix of the brief also provides an update on the status of Medicare Advantage (MA) “gap” or “plus” products which are individual cash-benefit plans sold to current MA plan enrollees.
“New rules applying to the sale of Medicare products certainly help, but ultimately fall short of adequately protecting consumers from marketing misconduct in an already confusing Medicare marketplace” stated Wayne Soucy, President/CEO of California Health Advocates. “Until major structural changes are made to the way state and federal regulators interact as well as how Medicare private products are structured, we will continue to see marketing abuses prevent informed consumer decision-making.”
The authors of the brief — David Lipschutz, Staff Attorney, Bonnie Burns, Training and Policy Specialist, and Deepti Sethi, Legal Consultant — call upon Congress and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to take action that will better protect Medicare beneficiaries and more effectively police private plans and the agent and brokers who sell them.
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California Health Advocates is dedicated to Medicare beneficiary advocacy and education efforts for Californians. (www.cahealthadvocates.org).
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Elaine Wong Eakins, Project Manager