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Casey and Toomey Introduce Bill to Give Beneficiaries Greater Choice in Medicare Advantage

August 4, 2011

WASHINGTON, DC— U.S. SenatorsBob Casey(D-PA) and Pat Toomey(R-PA) introduced the Medicare Beneficiary Preservation of Choice Actto restore the ability of Medicare Advantage recipients to change Medicare Advantage plans. The bill will reverse a change made in the Affordable Care Actthat eliminated the ability of Medicare Advantage recipients to change plans during the first three months of a calendar year.

“This legislation makes a simple change to existing law that can be a big help to older Americans who want to change their Medicare Advantage plans,” said Senator Casey. “This is an example of a change that can be made to improve the health care law that has broad support.”

“Medicare Advantage recipients deserve the freedom to make decisions about what health insurance coverage best suits their individual needs,” Sen. Toomeysaid. “The Medicare Beneficiary Preservation of Choice Act gives seniors a greater say in their own health care by restoring their right to makes changes to their Medicare coverage as they see fit.”

Section 3204 of the Affordable Care Acteliminated the one-time change of enrollment option under which new Medicare Advantage enrollees are currently permitted to change their selection to another Medicare Advantage plan during the first three months of the year if they determine the plan they enrolled in is not meeting their needs. Beginning in 2012, beneficiaries would be allowed to disenroll from their current plan and return to traditional Medicare between January 1 and February 15, but they can no longer enroll in another Medicare Advantage plan.

This bill would rescind the second part of Section 3204 and restore the three month time frame to change plans in the beginning of the calendar year as well as allow beneficiaries to switch to a different Medicare Advantage plan.

There are over 850,000 Medicare Advantage beneficiaries in PA and the western counties are among the highest penetration rates in the country, five with penetration over 60 percent.

Congressman Charlie Gonzalez (D-TX) has introduced H.R. 1580, the Medicare Beneficiary Preservation of Choice Actin the House.