Misleading Advertising by Medicare Advantage Plans Targets Low-income Older Adults and People with Disabilities; Advocacy Groups Call on CMS and FTC to Intervene

Misleading Advertising by Medicare Advantage Plans Targets Low-income Older Adults and People with Disabilities; Advocacy Groups Call on CMS and FTC to Intervene

Hartford, CT – In a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Federal Trade Commission, Disability Rights Connecticut, the National Health Law Program, the National Disability Rights Network, and the Center for Medicare Advocacy request that the agencies immediately intervene regarding misleading advertising that is being directed at low-income older adults and people with disabilities in Connecticut who are dually eligible for Medicare and Medicaid. The letter requests that the agencies take steps to address the advertising used by UnitedHealthcare to induce these individuals to sign up for their Medicare Advantage plan, causing significant harm to their access to essential health care. Finally, the letter requests that the agencies begin a full-scale investigation of all print, electronic, and televised advertising throughout the country by insurance companies offering Medicare Advantage plans directed explicitly at dual-eligible individuals.

“It was shocking to see how brazen the advertising specifically directed at low-income Medicare/Medicaid disabled individuals and older adults has been this year, clearly intended to induce them to sign up for plans they do not need and will actually provide less access to needed health care,” said Sheldon Toubman, Litigation Attorney as Disability Rights Connecticut. “It is time for federal regulatory agencies to step up to the plate and put an end to this aggressive false advertising, so that is why we are urgently calling on them to act to protect the people we represent.”

“Given that UnitedHealthcare is operating and advertising Medicare Advantage plans nationally, we are concerned about the potential scope of the problem,” said Jane Perkins, Litigation Director at the National Health Law Program. “We are calling on the federal agencies to investigate and to take action not just in Connecticut but wherever it is needed. We will certainly be following up with our Health Law Partnerships and other state-based advocates with whom we work.”

“Advertising by Medicare Advantage plans can lead beneficiaries to enroll in plans that do not best serve their needs. In fact, beneficiaries can face limited networks of providers, prior authorizations and other obstacles to care that result in beneficiaries forgoing necessary medical care. These false advertisements can have devastating real-world consequences for beneficiaries,” said Judith Stein, Executive Director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy. “It is critical for these oversight agencies to step in and take action.”

“Health insurance coverage is crucial, but Americans have come to accept that our options are notoriously difficult to evaluate and compare,” Eric Buehlmann, Deputy Executive Director for Public Policy, the National Disability Rights Network. “We should not accept this, more oversight is needed to ensure that, at the very least, misleading information is not targeted to seniors and people with disabilities.”

Related Content