This week, a bipartisan group of leaders from the U.S. House of Representatives Committees on Energy & Commerce and Ways & Means sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) expressing concerns with the redesigned Medicare Plan Finder (MPF). The letter points to errors that advocates and Medicare counselors experienced when using the new tool to help beneficiaries compare and select Medicare Advantage and Part D prescription drug plans during Fall Open Enrollment. In the letter, the leaders urge CMS to ensure that people with Medicare who relied on MPF information to choose a plan this year are held harmless and have the opportunity to make changes to their coverage in 2020.
This letter follows one last week from 15 U.S. Senators that also highlights accuracy and functionality problems with MPF and urges CMS to publicize the relief pathway available to those who may have chosen the wrong plan after using MPF.
Choosing a Medicare Advantage plan or a standalone prescription drug plan is a difficult task, and the MPF is the federal government’s primary enrollment assistance tool. Millions of people rely on the information in the MPF to be accurate and useful. Making the wrong coverage decision can have severe consequences for the health and personal finances of people with Medicare. That makes it vital for CMS to ensure the MPF is providing the information people need, to catch and fix errors as quickly as possible, and to find ways to help those who relied on incorrect information when they made their coverage choices.
At Medicare Rights, we applaud CMS for its efforts to redesign the MPF, which sorely needed an upgrade. The new site has an improved overall design and seems to lay the groundwork for future updates and enhancements. However, some significant glitches came to light during Fall Open Enrollment, which means we should be especially cautious before trusting the accuracy of the MPF results for all users. We strongly agree that beneficiaries who have used the new tool to choose a plan should be allowed to make changes to their coverage at any time during the upcoming plan year.
Going forward, people who made coverage decisions based on MPF results should look closely at their coverage and compare it to what they thought they had signed up for during Fall Open Enrollment. Even if there is a discrepancy, they should consider all of the circumstances of their care needs and prescriptions before making a change or seeking relief. Local State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIPs) can help individuals learn about their options and make changes when appropriate.