Topic: Star Ratings

Bombshells from MedPAC on Medicare Advantage Retention

John Gorman

The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPAC ), the nonpartisan blue-chip Congressional uber-nerds on our favorite entitlement program, met this week and the staff report presented a couple bombshells on retention rates in Medicare Advantage (MA).

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CMS’s Star Ratings Firing Squad Gets Squirt Guns

John Gorman

Last week, in a surprise move, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reversed its threat to terminate all Medicare Advantage and Part D health plans with 3 or fewer Stars for more than 3 consecutive years.  Roughly a dozen health plans were lined up in front of the firing squad as an example to the industry for months — and then CMS issued squirt guns to the executioners. 

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Why Medicare ACOs Were Always a Bad Deal, and Why They Need an Exit Strategy

John Gorman

Last week, the tenth of 32 Medicare Pioneer ACOs dropped out of the program.  Others are expressing reservations about entering or continuing given the experience of Pioneers and the hundreds participating in the Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP).  To be clear, it’s not all bad news…but most ACOs will need an exit strategy, fast.

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The Medicare ACO Demos Are a Mess. Here’s What it Means for Health Plans.

John Gorman

This week, another Medicare Pioneer Accountable Care Organization Demonstration site, longtime GHG client Sharp Healthcare in San Diego announced it was dropping out.  It was the tenth Pioneer to quit the trail, and not for lack of trying.  Many of the Pioneers did great on improving quality and reducing costs — the issue is not the performance of Pioneers.  It’s CMS’ methodology, with its requirement for Pioneers to bear risk in the third year, and benchmarks calculated to make any gainsharing impossible.

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Health Plan Strategists: Fish Where the Fishes Is — in LTSS

John Gorman

One of the best pieces of advice I ever got in business was to “fish where the fishes is”, and for health plan strategists it holds up.  In this Golden Age of Government-sponsored Health Programs, one of the biggest fishing holes is Long-Term Services and Supports, and a new primer from KFF lays out the opportunity beautifully.  And the hazards: patients who require LTSS are of course the most vulnerable and complex patients in the entire US health system, literally the final frontier for health plans and coordinated care.  Huge risk, huge rewards.

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American Action Network Promotes Government Subsidies

William MacBain

The American Action Network (AAN), a 501(c)(4) conservative think tank, has published a report that purports to show that Medicare Advantage (MA) payments will be about 13% less in 2015 than they would have been had the Affordable Care Act not interfered. To get the attention of members of Congress, the report shows the reductions by Congressional district.

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Part D and Hospice Rules Mucking Up Beneficiaries’ Last Days

John Gorman

Last week the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) met with 30 hospice & healthcare organizations about suspending a new rule intended to avoid duplicate payments for hospice medications. This is a very big deal and the new rule is mucking up many beneficiaries’ last days. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization described the meeting as “an important first step at righting the wrongs being faced by dying Medicare patients.”

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