Recently, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released a memo outlining the changes to the Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines (MCMG) for the 2020 plan year. Updates may affect regulations regarding Medicare Advantage organizations, prescription drug plans, and agents like you!

You can take a look at the memo to familiarize yourself with the updates.

This 2020 memo is meant to be used in conjunction with the 2019 Medicare Communications and Marketing Guidelines.

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There are a few critical updates that we’d like to cover to make sure you’re prepared for the upcoming plan year. Please note the opinions expressed below are strictly based on Ritter’s interpretation of the changes. Carriers may take a stricter view regarding these changes. We are in the process of clarifying our interpretation with various carriers.

Broadened Permission to Contact

Subsection 40.2 – Marketing through Unsolicited Contacts

The following content has been deleted: “If a potential enrollee provides permission to be contacted, the contact must be event-specific, and may not be treated as open-ended permission for future contacts.”

We intially interpreted this to mean that the same permission to contact could be used across different election periods. However, we are no longer making this claim. Subsection 40.3 in the MCMG that states “Permission applies only to the entity from which the individual requested contact and for the duration and topic of the transaction.” One carrier’s interpretation of the new guidelines is that PTC will expire once contact is made or 90 days after receipt by the company for consumers requesting information on Medicare Supplement insurance or who are on the federal Do-Not-Call Registry or nine months after receipt for MA plan and PDP — whichever situation happens first.

Opportunity to Sell After Educational Events

Subsection 50.1 – Educational Events

The word “future” has been deleted from this statement: “May set up a future marketing appointment, and distribute business cards and contact information for beneficiaries to initiate contact (this includes completing and collecting a Scope of Appointment (SOA) form).”

The following content has been deleted: “May not conduct a marketing/sales event immediately following an educational event in the same general location (e.g., same hotel).”

The combination of these two changes seems to suggest that agents are allowed to collect SOAs and take applications at the end of an educational event, which was previously prohibited. Therefore, if an agent feels it’s in his/her and their clients’ best interest to hold the two events back to back, they are permitted to do so.

More Leeway with Marketing/Sales Events

Section 50.2 – Marketing/Sales Events

The word “scripts” has been replaced with “talking points” in the following bullet: “Plans/Part D sponsors must submit script talking points, if applicable, and presentations to CMS prior to use, including those to be used by agents/brokers.”

We take this to mean that agents are allowed to improvise their delivery of the presentation and content they’d like to cover before accepting an application at a sales appointment. Prior to this change, sales presentations were required to follow a script approved by the carrier for their plan. Previously, those scripts were approved by CMS. Now only “talking points” should be submitted to CMS by the carriers, allowing leeway for agents to conduct a more interactive sales presentation.

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These are the main highlights that we felt were necessary to highlight prior to the upcoming plan year. Be sure to read over the entire memo and review last year’s MCMG to be as informed as possible. You can reach out to Ritter’s compliance officer, Van Hang, if you have any questions.