WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), along with U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), introduced the Medicare Advantage Participant Bill of Rights Act. The legislation was inspired by stories the lawmakers heard from their constituents, as well as people across the nation, whose doctors were dropped from their Medicare Advantage plans in the middle of the year.
“American seniors spend a lifetime working hard and contributing to our society,” Brown said. “In return, they deserve a strong Medicare program that protects their rights along with their health and wellbeing. Congress can ensure this by standing up for patients and passing the MA Participant Bill of Rights Act. This bill would protect patients by making sure Medicare Advantage plans do not remove providers without warning or during the middle of a plan year. It will also ensure that seniors are given information that will help them find new providers if needed.”
“The timing and scale of UnitedHealth Group’s provider cuts have been extremely disruptive to their Connecticut patients and put them at risk,” DeLauro said. “We have a responsibility to ensure that Medicare Advantage plans are serving the needs of their participants. That is why Senator Brown and I are introducing the Medicare Advantage Participant Bill of Rights Act, which would prohibit Medicare Advantage organizations, like UnitedHealth, from dropping providers at any time during the year without cause. Congress has to hold these companies accountable, and make sure they are putting the care of their enrollees ahead of their profits.”
“This measure vitally protects elderly and frail patients from losing doctors they know and trust,” Blumenthal said. “At a time when seniors are most vulnerable and fragile, the law should prevent insurers from exploiting them and their health providers. Our experience with United Healthcare Group – unconscionably dropping hundreds of doctors – provides powerful evidence for this stronger protection.”
The Medicare Advantage Participant Bill of Rights Act would require Medicare Advantage plans to finalize their provider networks 60 days before the annual open enrollment period begins. This would ensure that enrollees know what providers will be covered before they enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan. It would also prohibit plans from dropping doctors without cause outside of open enrollment, ensuring seniors would not have to worry about abruptly losing access to their doctors.
The bill would also enhance transparency, by requiring Medicare Advantage plans to disclose the reasons for dropping providers, and requiring the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to redesign the tool that enables patients to compare plans.