Poolman Testifies Before Congress ~ Provides information about aggressive sales practices ~
Posted on 6/26/2007
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Cecily Fong
June 26, 2007
Bismarck, ND - North Dakota Insurance Commissioner Jim Poolman today testified before the United States House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Committee, providing information about aggressive sales practices specific to the marketing of Medicare Advantage plans in North Dakota.
"Over the course of the past several months, my office has fielded hundreds of complaints from seniors in North Dakota about Medicare Advantage plans and the abusive and aggressive sales tactics that many companies are using to sell to vulnerable seniors," Poolman said. He added, "Today, I told their story to Congress and I am pleased that Congress is taking action and looking into these marketing abuses."
The Insurance Department has communicated many of the marketing issues to Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) but so far, CMS has not provided substantive assistance.
Poolman said, "Clearly these companies need more rigorous oversight and CMS is not prepared or seemingly able to do the job. Under the current circumstances, seniors in North Dakota are being shortchanged by CMS and the Medicare Modernization Act."
The Insurance Department has been monitoring complaints about Medicare Advantage plans and is currently conducting an investigation into specific insurance companies, agencies and agents who are selling the plans.
Poolman said, "Our investigation is ongoing and even though we do not have regulatory authority over the insurance companies themselves, we do have authority over the agents that are selling the plans," Poolman explained. "We will not hesitate to suspend or revoke agents' licenses."
Any senior who thinks they may have been the victim of abusive sales practices, or has been switched to a Medicare Advantage plan without knowledge or full consent or has questions about Medicare Advantage plans should call the Senior Health Insurance Counseling (SHIC) program at 1.888.575.6611.