CMS has decided that Medicare private plans are going to get higher rates this year despite the fact that many Congressional Democrats want to cut the rates they’re paid. There’s been a healthy debate on THCB in the last few days on whether or not these plans add much value (and to whom that value is added!). However, it does seem a bit crass for CMS to go an announced next years rates, when it’s clearly being changed in Congress as we speak. Even if they say “well it was Congressionally mandated” they too need to notice who’s running Congress these days.
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What one hand giveth, the other hand taketh away. Last year CMS announced 3.9% MA rate increases, but also added risk adjustments that nullified those increases for many plans.
Also, if I’m not mistaken, overall medical cost trend is still running around 6-7%, so a 3.5% increase would hardly be an open-mouth kiss to HMOs.