WASHINGTON, May 17 (UPI) -- A Democratic lawmaker Wednesday stepped up pressure on Medicare to more closely monitor health plans' Part D marketing tactics.
U.S. Rep. Pete Stark of California, the ranking Democrat on the Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, wrote to Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Administrator Mark McClellan, telling the Medicare chief he is not doing enough to ensure that health insurers with Part D plans are not engaging in dubious marketing activities, such as giving incentives to plan representatives to mislead potential enrollees about benefits.
"I remain concerned that your marketing guidelines do not set a sufficiently high standard," the letter said. "For example, CMS should expressly prohibit incentives for marketing representatives to mislead beneficiaries, cherry pick certain beneficiaries, or churn beneficiaries between plans, not merely suggest that plans 'avoid' such activities."
Stark also charged that the Medicare head "dodged" the issue in a May 3 response to an earlier missive from Stark on CMS oversight of health-plan promotional activities.
The lawmaker urged McClellan to go immediately public with data on plan call centers and to provide information such as the number of corrective action plans, compliance warning letters, civil monetary penalties and/or intermediate sanctions levied against Part D health plans in 2006.
Stark also wanted to know whether Congress and Medicare beneficiaries would have access to information on past and future CMS enforcement activities against the health plans.