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Private Medicare Plans Favored Under New Trump Executive Order (1)

Oct. 3, 2019, 1:32 PM; Updated: Oct. 3, 2019, 5:01 PM

Medicare will encourage seniors to consider private insurance plans that offer many of the same benefits under an executive order steering patients away from traditional coverage that pays doctors based on the number of services provided.

The order, which President Donald Trump will sign Oct. 3, is to ensure that Medicare doesn’t favor its traditional coverage over Medicare Advantage, plans where private insurers manage benefits on behalf of the government, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told reporters on a call.

Azar did not specify how the administration plans to prevent steering seniors into traditional Medicare and said the order directed his department to examine its current practices.

“We are lowing the cost of prescription drugs, taking on the pharmaceutical companies, ensuring access to the doctor of your choice—and, every day, we are proudly defending Medicare,” Trump said.

The order will also have the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services create a demonstration project allowing seniors to directly share in savings that they provide to the program, Azar said.

The order is intended to make the Medicare financially sustainable, but CMS Administrator Seema Verma only pointed to actions the administration has already taken when asked how it intends to contain costs.

As part of the order, nurse practitioners and physicians assistants would also be allowed to practice medicine to the full extent of their training in a bid to widen coverage in poorly served rural areas, Azar said.

(Updates with quote from Trump in the fourth paragraph.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Shira Stein in Washington at sstein@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bloomberglaw.com; Andrew Childers at achilders@bloomberglaw.com

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