Medicare Cautions Medicare-Contracted Insurance Companies & Drug Plans About Health Care Reform Advocacy Mailings As Investigation Opened Into Humana, Inc. Reform Related Communications To Beneficiaries

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is considering taking action against Humana, Inc. based on communications about health care reform it sent to enrollees in its Medicare Advantage Plans and calling on other Medicare-contracted health insurance and prescription drug plans to suspend potentially misleading mailings to beneficiaries about health care and insurance reform.

According to a CMS announcement distributed today, CMS is investigating whether Humana, Inc. acted improperly in connection with its communications with enrollees in its plans about health care reform. The CMS investigation reportedly initiated at the request of Senate Finance Chair Max Baucus (D-Mont.) questions the propriety of letters sent by Humana, Inc. to Medicare enrollees alleging that they could lose their benefits under healthcare reform bills moving through Congress. 

According to CMS, CMS learned that Humana had been contacting enrollees in one or more of its plans and, in mailings that CMS obtained, made claims that current health care reform legislation affecting Medicare could hurt Medicare beneficiaries. The message from Humana urges enrollees to contact their congressional representatives to protest the actions referenced in the letter.

The Humana Letter allegedly letter told beneficiaries that “millions of seniors and disabled individuals could lose many of the important benefits and services that make Medicare Advantage health plans so valuable” and urged enrollees to contact their congressional representatives and protest the possible changes. Humana, Inc. sent the letter in an envelope stating that the envelop contained ‘important information about beneficiaries’ plans.’

CMS has commenced an investigation into whether the Humana, Inc. mailings violate Federal laws.  Specifically, CMS is investigating whether Humana inappropriately used the lists of Medicare enrollees for unauthorized purposes or violated regulations requiring CMS prior approval of advertisements to beneficiaries. 

Late last week, CMS requested that Humana, Inc. end similar mailings and remove related communications from its website pending the completion of its investigation. CMS reports that Humana has agreed to do so.

In an announcement e-mailed to members of its list-serve today, CMS notified other Medicare contracted health insurance and prescription drug plans of the investigation and urged them to abstain from engaging in similar communications. “We are concerned that the materials Humana sent to our beneficiaries may violate Medicare rules by appearing to contain Medicare Advantage and prescription drug benefit information, which must be submitted to CMS for review” said Jonathan Blum, acting director of CMS’ Center for Drug and Health Plan Choices.  “We also are asking that no other plan sponsors are mailing similar materials while we investigate whether a potential violation has occurred.” 

Other Recent Developments

If you found this information of interest, you also may be interested in reviewing some of the following recent Solution Law Press Health Care Updates available online by clicking on the article title below:

For More Information

We hope that this information is useful to you.  If you need assistance with these or other Medicare Advantage or other health care public policy, regulatory, compliance, risk management, workforce and other staffing, transactional or operational concerns, please contact the author of this update, Curran Tomko Tarski LLP Health Practice Group Chair, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, at (214) 270‑2402, cstamer@cttlegal.com, Ms. Stamer has extensive experience advising clients and writes and speaks extensively on these and other health industry and other reimbursement, operations, internal controls and risk management matters. 

Ms. Stamer has extensive experience in these and other health industry related representation including specific experience assisting Medicare/Medicaid Advantage and other health plans, their outsourcers and others about regulatory compliance, contracting and other risk management and public policy matters.  You can review other recent health care and related resources and additional information about the health industry and other experience of Ms. Stamer here

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here, or e-mailing this information to cstamer@cttlegal.com, and/or by participating in the SLP Health Care Risk Management & Operations Group on LinkedIn.

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information – including your preferred e-mail – by creating or updating your profile at here or e-mailing this information here.  To unsubscribe, e-mail here.

©2009 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer.  All rights reserved.

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