Medicare Advantage

Congress stumps for Medicare Advantage plans

The Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.
Medicare Advantage is getting more popular on Capitol Hill. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Almost 70% of Congress signed onto new letters backing Medicare Advantage, the growing alternative to traditional Medicare that collects $250 billion of taxpayer funding.

The bottom line: In what has become an annual tradition, members of Congress praised Medicare Advantage plans' out-of-pocket caps and vision benefits — but did not mention the program's tradeoffs and concerns, like narrower networks of doctors and the controversial billing practices that have led to inflated payments.

Medicare pitches 1.6% rate hike for private plans

Two older women sit near a table at a senior center.
Two women over age 65 talk at a senior center. Evelyn Hockstein/The Washington Post via Getty Images

The federal government has proposed raising average payments to Medicare Advantage and Part D drug plans by 1.59% for the 2020 plan year, a tick down from what was proposed for 2019.

The bottom line: The final rate, which will come out April 1, will almost certainly be higher; the initial proposal usually lowballs certain factors within Medicare's complex payment formula. Regardless, more people are flocking to Medicare Advantage and Part D, which together will cost an estimated $350 billion this year and $383 billion in 2020.

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