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Medicare Is Probing Advantage Rates Leak, Tavenner Says

U.S. Senator Charles Grassley
U.S. Senator Charles Grassley said that “when information leaks from the administration that has the ability to cause significant market movement, it is wrong and quite possibly illegal.” Photographer: Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

Medicare is probing the possible leak of a government decision regarding health insurers’ payments for next year, administrator Marilyn Tavenner said.

Leaks of Medicare decisions are a “huge issue,” Tavenner said in testimony before the U.S. Senate Finance Committee today.

Health insurance stocks surged on April 1 before the official government announcement on new Medicare rates, shining a spotlight on the ties among Congress, U.S. agencies and certain investment advisers. At issue is a private e-mail from a politically connected research firm that alerted recipients that Medicare rates, scheduled to drop under a preliminary decision, would increase instead.

The e-mail from Height Analytics LLC hit at 3:40 p.m. on April 1, followed by a sharp rise in the stocks of insurers such as Humana Inc. that participate in the Medicare Advantage program.

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