Letter to Secretary Burwell - Protect Retiree Health Coverage


Dear Secretary Burwell:

We write to express our concerns regarding the proposed changes to the payment and bidding model for Medicare Advantage Employer Group Waiver Plans (EGWP) included in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) 2017 Advance Notice. The proposed changes could result in payment cuts of 3-4% to Medicare Advantage (MA) Retiree Coverage, negatively impacting the 3.3 million seniors who depend on this coverage for high quality affordable health care. We urge you to remove the proposed 3-4% payment cut to MA Retiree Coverage in the 2017 Final Notice scheduled to be released on April 4th.

Private and public employers, including state and local governments and labor unions, depend on MA Retiree Coverage to deliver superior care to their workforce. MA Retiree Coverage can improve health care for retirees by offering care coordination and disease management, comprehensive prescription drug coverage, and protections against out-of-pocket costs. The CMS proposed cut will likely result in increased out-of-pocket costs, reduced access to providers, and fewer health care options for seniors.

While we appreciate CMS's efforts to improve the EGWP program, the networks provided by EGWPs make these plans different from other MA plans. Any changes to the bidding and payment process should follow a detailed analysis that illustrates how the quality of care for seniors will improve and costs to seniors will decrease. A new analysis from the actuarial firm Milliman estimates that total costs of these proposed cuts to the 3.3 million retirees with this coverage could be $870 million in 2017 alone. For millions of retirees on fixed incomes, increased costs would represent a significant hit to their financial peace of mind.

It is critical that the 3.3 million seniors enrolled in MA Retiree Coverage continue to have access to high quality, stable health care delivered by this option. We ask that you remove the proposed cut to MA Retiree Coverage to avoid negatively impacting seniors and employers by this proposal.


Patrick E. Murphy
Member of Congress

Kyrsten Sinema
Member of Congress

Additional co-signers include: U.S. Reps. Pete Aguilar (CA-31), Brad Ashford (NE-02), Ami Bera (CA-07), Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Corrine Brown (FL-05), Julia Brownley (CA-26), Cheri Bustos (IL-17), Tony Cárdenas (CA-29), Yvette Clarke (NY-09), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Jim Costa (CA-16), Joe Courtney (CT-02), Joe Crowley (NY-14), Henry Cuellar (TX-28), John Delaney (MD-06), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Ted Deutch (FL-21), Tammy Duckworth (IL-08), Elizabeth Esty (CT-05), Lois Frankel (FL-22), Ruben Gallego (AZ-07), John Garamendi (CA-03), Gwen Graham (FL-02), Denny Heck (WA-10), Sheila Jackson Lee (TX-18), Dan Kildee (MI-05), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Ann Kirkpatrick (AZ-01), Ann McLane Kuster (NH-02), John Larson (CT-01), Michelle Lujan Grisham (NM-01), Beto O'Rourke (TX-16), Donald Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Scott Peters (CA-52), Collin Peterson (MN-07), Kathleen Rice (NY-04), Cedric Richmond (LA-02), Raul Ruiz (CA-36), Linda T. Sánchez (CA-38), Kurt Schrader (OR-05), David Scott (GA-13), Terri Sewell (AL-07), Eric Swalwell (CA-15), Mark Takai (HI-01), Filemon Vela (TX-34), Frederica S. Wilson (FL-24), and John Yarmuth (KY-03).