CMS's eMedicare Initiative Heeds Key Recommendations in CAHC's Medicare Plan Finder Report

Coalition continues to urge shift toward privatization

WASHINGTON, DC (October 1, 2018): The Council for Affordable Health Coverage (CAHC)  – a coalition of employers, insurers, life science companies, PBMs, brokers, agents, patient groups, and physician organizations – responded today to changes announced by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) intended to streamline Medicare beneficiaries' online experience. 

The agency's new "eMedicare" initiative heeds key recommendations made by CAHC's Clear Choices Campaign in its report on Medicare Plan Finder, released alongside the National Council on Aging (NCOA) earlier this year. The report gave the Medicare Plan Finder tool "D" or "F" grades in seven out of 13 criteria and offered specific suggestions for improvement while also positing that the site "could be partially or fully privatized." 

In today's announcement, CMS promises reforms such as: an improved coverage wizard to help beneficiaries better understand their options, an out-of-pocket cost calculator that will provide information on both overall costs and prescription drug costs, a simplified log-in for Medicare Plan Finder, a web chat option, and new easy-to-use surveys meant to gauge beneficiaries' feedback. 

CAHC President Joel White released the following statement:

"CAHC is grateful to see that, with these changes, CMS is listening to Medicare beneficiaries and heeding the recommendations of our report issued earlier this year. We pressed administration officials for swift action ahead of the open enrollment season to improve consumers' online experience, and they have made important strides towards that goal," said CAHC President Joel White. "At the same time, CAHC continues to believe that, in an age of ample private healthcare e-commerce tools, the federal government has little business entering into direct competition with its private-sector alternatives in the first place. Instead of spending more money to revamp the consumer experience, CMS should consider partnering with private sector entities who already earn high marks from those they serve. We are long overdue for an honest conversation on whether beneficiaries would be better served by partially or fully privatizing Medicare Plan Finder's functions. Such a reality could ensure that policymakers spend a little less time building websites and a little more time working to improve care and spur better health outcomes for Medicare's 59 million beneficiaries."

In April 2018, CAHC's healthcare cost transparency initiative - the Clear Choices Campaign - released "Modernizing Medicare Plan Finder: Evaluating and Improving Medicare's Online Comparison Shopping Experience"  alongside its partners at the National Council on Aging (NCOA). 

The report, featured in ForbesPoliticoInside Health PolicyTownHallThe Daily Signal, and HealthcareDive, among others, offered 11 key recommendations for improving the Medicare Plan Finder tool. CAHC and NCOA met with administration personnel, stakeholder groups, Congressional offices, and others to champion improvements to the site ahead of the annual open enrollment season. CAHC has also consistently advocated for a shift to privatization, including in a widely-circulated op-ed for The Daily Signal earlier this year.

See a full list of CAHC's Medicare Plan Finder recommendations that are reflected in today's CMS announcement here