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U.S. House to approve Vern Buchanan measure protecting seniors

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by

The U.S. House is expected Tuesday to pass Congressman Vern Buchanan‘s legislation to preserve Medicare Advantage plans for thousands of older people in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

“Medicare Advantage plans have a proven track record of improving health, reducing costs and offering much-needed personal choice to seniors,” Buchanan said in a statement. “I am committed to strengthening and preserving this vitally important program.”

Buchanan’s bipartisan proposal seeks to prevent the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) from terminating popular, low-cost Medicare Advantage plans. His measure, known as the “Seniors’ Health Care Plan Protection Act,” is part of a broader Medicare bill expected to be approved by the House Tuesday evening.

CMS had threatened to terminate Medicare Advantage plans that were unable to meet the demands of its rating system. These programs mainly serve low-income individuals in poor health.

“The government shouldn’t take away popular health coverage from some of the most vulnerable members of society,” Buchanan said. “Many seniors in my district and throughout the country depend on these inexpensive health plans.” Buchanan’s legislation was originally introduced as H.R. 2506.

Buchanan says he is a champion of protecting Medicare Advantage plans.

Last year, Buchanan’s proposal to block CMS from terminating the Medicare Advantage plans passed the U.S House but failed in the Senate. Buchanan also wrote Acting CMS Administrator Andy Slavitt in March 2015 to urge him to abandon a CMS plan that would significantly reduce reimbursement rates for Medicare Advantage.

The effort was successful – CMS did not cut the rates last year.

Buchanan is the only Floridian on the House Ways and Means Committee and its Subcommittee on Health.

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