Senator Kelly Statement on UnitedHealthcare Medicare Advantage Physician Cuts

December 5, 2013

Senator Kevin Kelly (R-21), ranking member of the Connecticut General Assembly’s Insurance Committee, released the following statement today re: UnitedHealthcare’s dropping of physicians on its Medicare Advantage Network, and the Fairfield County Medical Association/Hartford County Medical Association’s lawsuit against the insurer.

“I am disappointed in UnitedHealthcare’s decision to drop 2,250 doctors from their Medicare Advantage program, and I applaud the physicians with the Fairfield County Medical Association and Hartford County Medical Association who have stood up to the unfair network changes. These significant cuts have severely impacted the level of access seniors now have to doctors across the state, and the entire medical community should be concerned with this behavior.

“I understand that the decision to cut doctors from UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Advantage network was influenced by the Affordable Care Act’s $205 billion in reductions to the Medicare Advantage program and the expected losses the insurer faces under the new health care law. Earlier this week it was revealed that the insurer is expected to lose approximately $1.9 billion next year as a result of fees and rate cuts from the Affordable Care Act. With such significant losses, drastic measures to save money are to be expected.

“Obviously the decision to cut doctors from the Medicare Advantage program was an attempt to save funds in the wake of the Affordable Care Act losses. However, shifting the problems caused by the new law onto those most in need is unacceptable.

“By cutting doctors from the Medicare Advantage networks, UnitedHealthcare is hurting seniors. People with serious medical conditions are losing their doctors, and losing trusted care relationships. They are being told they need to find new care providers, even if that means traveling far which is not always easy for seniors. The process to find a new doctor is also extremely difficult when the system is strained and fewer doctors are expected to provide care for the same number of people a much larger network cared for previously.

“This situation is an unfortunate example of the unintended consequences of the Affordable Care Act. The negative impact on insurers leads to a negative impact on people.”