Network Development in the Era of Relaxed Supplemental Benefit Regulations

As we saw in this year’s Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regulations, Medicare Advantage (MA) plans are gaining greater flexibility to design and offer new types of benefits to service their members. While the information was provided after many plans had already put significant time into their Contract Year (CY) 2019 bids, we anticipate in CY 2020 to see MA plans branching out and offering more variation and specialized benefits geared towards their population.

When MA plans begin to formulate their sales and marketing strategy and determine the impact a variety of benefits could have based on addressing the particular social determinates of health that most impact their geographic area and member population, we begin to see a vast gap in the playing field from plans staying close to the basics with meals and non-emergent transport to plans willing to take more risk, having unexpected cost and the willingness to invest in innovative benefit options without knowing the exact return on investment the benefit will have on patient outcomes or financial upside/downside cost. We may see an upswing in partnerships with transitional assisted living to skilled nursing facilities, vendors offering adaptive aids to keep patients in their homes longer, meal or grocery delivery services, as well as an expansion on transportation services.

From a Provider Network perspective, the move forward with new partnerships will likely present a few stumbling blocks along the way and offer a ramp-up period we do not see with traditional MA providers. We encourage you to start early and break down the silos by having group discussions to include Sales & Marketing, Medical Management, Star Ratings, Operations, and Provider Network. The new providers are likely going to be dipping their toes in the same deep end of the pool, and extra lead time and planning will serve you well.

We would encourage all MA plans to have:

  • Planned education sessions/town hall meetings to educate and get to know the new vendors/providers and hear what their needs are
  • Plan for a more lengthy contracting process
  • Plan for additional onboarding and training with the new vendors
  • Allow for additional member education time



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