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Seniors Oppose Cutting Medicare Advantage to Fund Physician Payment Fix
Date:6/19/2008

WASHINGTON, June 19 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Most seniors - regardless of whether they are enrolled in traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage - oppose cutting the Medicare Advantage program to fund the Medicare physician payment fix and believe cuts to Medicare Advantage will have a negative effect on seniors, a new survey finds.

Power Point Presentation: http://www.ahip.org/content/default.aspx?docid=23669

Memo of Survey Findings: http://www.ahip.org/content/default.aspx?docid=23671

Conducted jointly by Ayres, McHenry & Associates and the Feldman Group on behalf of America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), the poll found that seniors in traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage generally agree about how to approach the physician payment issue.

By a 3-to-1 ratio among traditional Medicare enrollees and a 6-to-1 ratio among Medicare Advantage enrollees, seniors oppose cutting Medicare Advantage instead of cutting payments for doctors who treat Medicare patients.

"Regardless of how seniors receive their Medicare coverage, most clearly oppose singling out Medicare Advantage enrollees to fund the physician payment fix," said Roy Temple, Principal at the Feldman Group.

By a 4-to-1 ratio among traditional Medicare enrollees and a 5-to-1 ratio among Medicare Advantage enrollees, most seniors believe cuts to the Medicare Advantage program will have a negative impact on seniors in Medicare health plans.

"Medicare Advantage enrollees overwhelmingly believe that cutting their program will have a negative effect on seniors," said Dr. Q. Whitfield Ayres, President of Ayres, McHenry & Associates.

Half of seniors enrolled in traditional Medicare or Medicare Advantage oppose the scheduled cut in payments to doctors. However, by more than a 5-to-1 ratio among traditional Medicare enrollees and a 13-to-1 ratio among Medicare Advantage enrollees, seniors prefer cutting other programs besides Medicare Advantage or raising taxes to offset the spending needed to stop a scheduled cut in physician payments.

"Seniors agree that the physician payment system needs to be fixed, but not at the expense of more than nine million seniors who rely on the high-value coverage they receive from Medicare Advantage plans," said Karen Ignagni, President and CEO of AHIP.

The survey also found that an overwhelming majority of seniors enrolled in traditional Medicare (89 percent) and Medicare Advantage (88 percent) are satisfied with their coverage. Other key findings include:

Ninety-two percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees and 93 percent of traditional Medicare enrollees are satisfied with their doctor.

Eighty-seven percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees and 93 percent of traditional Medicare seniors never had to change their doctors because their doctors either stopped treating Medicare patients or left their plans.

Eighty-nine percent of Medicare Advantage enrollees and 62 percent of traditional Medicare enrollees believe it is important for seniors to have the choice of a plan other than traditional Medicare, such as a Medicare Advantage plan.

The survey of 401 traditional Medicare enrollees and 400 Medicare Advantage enrollees was conducted June 11-15, 2008 and had a margin of error of +/- 4.9 percent.

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SOURCE America's Health Insurance Plans
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