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- Senators' letter highlights concerns from senior advocates about access to Medicare plan information
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The letter was sent in anticipation of a high volume of inquiries from beneficiaries during an already chaotic time. Medicare Open Enrollment begins on
In their letter to the
"Advocates have shared that the new system does not allow seniors to view a side-by-side comparison of their prescription drugs like the previous plan finder tool," the Senators wrote. "The new system also does not save the prescription information for future use, requiring beneficiaries to re-enter prescription drugs every time. For beneficiaries who take anywhere from 1 to 25 different prescription medications, this can mean 90 minutes or more added to their enrollment time.
"While the effort to overhaul and improve the online experience for the nation's 60 million Medicare beneficiaries is needed, the later-than-expected rollout, functionality, and monitoring of the new Medicare Plan Finder tool raise significant concerns," the Senators continued.
Any problems with the proposed Medicare Plan Finder tool would have heightened consequences in
To ensure that Medicare beneficiaries receive the information and support they need to select an optimal plan, the Senators asked:
1. Is it possible to maintain the current legacy system until
2. What process, if any, has CMS used to solicit feedback from SHIPS [State Health Insurance Programs] and assisters along with beneficiaries to test the new tool and develop a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) brochure or similar resource?
3. What process, if any, has CMS developed for SHIPS and assisters to provide observations and other feedback to CMS regarding the new plan finder as open enrollment begins?
4. What process does CMS have in place to monitor the rollout and any disruptions to the Medicare Plan Finder tool?
5. What procedures are in place to respond to potential site disruption, unexpected crashed or log-outs, and delays associated with creating new accounts or recovering passwords?
6. What contingency plans are in place to respond to capacity challenges that SHIPS, 1-800-MEDICARE, Medicare.Gov and other assisters may face due to the anticipated high volume of beneficiaries seeking assistance?
7. What monitoring will take place to identify and review enrollment patterns such as unusual spikes that might indicate inappropriate outreach or broker behavior? What monitoring exists to protect against adverse selection?
8. What process is in place to report and correct inappropriate outreach or broker behavior?
An online version of the Senators' letter can be found here (https://www.merkley.senate.gov/download/medicare-plan-finder-letter-2019).