October 05,2010

21,000 Iowans to Lose Medicare Advantage Plans Under Democratic Leaders' Changes


To:       Reporters and Editors
Re:       21,000 Iowans losing Medicare Advantage plans
Da:      Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa today made the following comment on news that about 21,000 Iowans will no longer have access to their Medicare Advantage plans next year.  Grassley is ranking member of the Committee on Finance, with jurisdiction over Medicare.

“Congressional Democrats cut Medicare Advantage in 2008 and overrode a presidential veto to do it. As a result of that and the recent health care overhaul, 920,000 Medicare Advantage beneficiaries will be forced out of their current plan, and more than 21,000 of these beneficiaries live in Iowa.  The Administration’s own chief actuary predicts that the $200 billion in cuts from the new health care law and previous reforms will decrease Medicare Advantage’s projected enrollment by 50 percent between now and 2017. Adding insult to injury is the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ misinforming the public in a speech yesterday that ‘there will be more Medicare Advantage plans to choose from’ in the future. Whether you ask the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the Administration’s own chief actuary or read the headlines in your local paper, the facts are indisputable.  Seniors face fewer choices, fewer benefits and higher costs because of the partisan health care overhaul and previous changes to the Medicare program under Democratic leadership.”

The text of today’s Des Moines Register article on the change for 21,000 Iowans follows here.

21,000 Iowans to lose Medicare plans

October 5, 2010

About 21,000 Iowans received notice last week that their insurers would no longer provide their
Medicare Advantage plans in 2011, a state agency said.

With Medicare Advantage, Iowa seniors get their health care insurance through a private company, instead of directly through the government Medicare program. The plans often provide coverage, such as prescription drugs, in addition to medical and hospital coverage.

Insurers were required to notify members by Saturday that they will no longer contract with
Medicare to provide plans, said Iowa's Senior Health Insurance Information Program.

Iowans who received notice that their plans will no longer continue can join a new Medicare Advantage plan or return to original Medicare.

"You are still in the Medicare program no matter what you choose," said Kris Gross, director of the state senior health insurance program.

Iowans should consider joining a prescription drug plan if they return to original Medicare, Gross said.

Next year, Iowa will have 13 fewer stand-alone Medicare prescription drug plans, the state said.
About 1,230 Iowans were notified last week their prescription drug plans would not be renewed.

Insurers are required to notify Iowans by Oct. 31 if their prescription drug plans will change. Gross said some Iowans will be shifted into new prescription drug plans and should carefully read their annual notice of change to ensure the plans still fit their needs.

Iowans should make decisions about their Medicare and prescription drug plans by Dec. 31, but Gross urges residents to make decisions earlier. Iowans can begin enrolling Nov. 15.

For more information about Medicare and prescription drug coverage, call (800) 351-4664.
Or Iowans can go to Medicare.gov to compare plans.