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05/06/2013

Dr. Brian Biles Discusses the Status of Medicare Advantage (May 6, 2013)

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Since the 1970s Medicare beneficiaries have had the option of receiving their Medicare benefits via private health insurance plans.  Today 27% of Medicare beneficiaries, or 13.3 million seniors, are enrolled in these private plans.  MA program growth in the past few years has been rapid, enrollment almost tripled between 2003 and 2012 and the program is estimated to add another 1.5 million beneficiaries this year.  Medicare, which pays MA plans a capitated rate rather than on a FFS basis, reimbursed MA plans $136b. in 2012.  The program has not been without controversy largely due to payments or over payments made to MA-participating plans.   For example, just prior to the 2010 passage of the Affordable Care Act the CBO estimated equalizing payments between Medicare Advantage programs and the traditional fee for service Medicare program would generate $170 billion in savings over the ten year budget window.   Despite ACA reforms to MA, MedPAC (the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission) estimated in 2013 overall payments to plans will equal $6 billion more for MA enrollees than would have been paid to cover the same enrollees in Medicare fee for service.  

Dr. Biles begins this 27-minute interview by explaining how private insurance plans participte in the MA program including how they bid for services against county benchmark rates.  He explains why MA participation has nearly tripled over the past decade, what MA payment and quality incentive reforms were included in the Affordable Care Act including the star bonus program, MA risk adjustment, the quality of care provided by MA plans and possible future reforms to the MA program are also all discussed.       

Since 2000 Dr. Brian Biles has been a Professor in the Health Policy Department at The George Washingtion University and is also a Senior Vice President at the Commonwealth Foundation. Previously Dr. Biles served for seven years as staff director of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Health, served later as Biles_brian1[1]Deputy Assistant Secretary for Health at the Department of Health and Human Services in the Clinton Administration and also served as Deputy Secretary for Maryland's Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.  Among other professional activities, Dr. Biles chairs the Medical Administrators Conference and is a Fellow of the New York Academy of Medicine and an Invited Lecturer at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.  Dr. Biles received his Doctor of Medicine and Bachelor of Arts with honors from the University of Kansas and he holds a masters degree in public health from Johns Hopkins University.

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