House committee subpoenas HHS over Medicare Advantage demonstration project

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Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and other House Republicans issued a subpoena Monday to gain access to documents related to an Affordable Care Act Medicare Advantage demonstration project.

The subpoena pertains to an ACA demonstration program that awards quality bonus payments to MA plans with three or more stars, and speeds up bonuses for four-star plans. The project also boosts bonuses for four-star plans. The project costs $8.3 billion over 10 years.

Issa — who chairs the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee — and other Republicans claim that the program is simply intended to lessen the impact of other ACA cuts to Medicare Advantage beneficiaries prior to the presidential election.

In response to multiple requests over several months, HHS handed over 1,300 pages of data and communications related to the demo to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee last Thursday. But Issa calls the documents insufficient.

In a letter to Sebelius from House Republicans last Wednesday, the lawmakers asserted that  “the only plausible explanation for the demonstration is that you decided to utilize a loophole in the Social Security Act to temporarily cover up Obamacare's large cuts to 13 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage until after this year's election.”

Under Medicare Advantage, beneficiaries can select a private health plan rather than traditional Medicare. Like fee-for-service Medicare, it covers skilled nursing facility stays following acute episodes and other post-acute care.

Click here and here to read the lawmakers' letter to Sebelius.