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U.S. government says 2015 Medicare payments to insurers to rise

April 7 (Reuters) - The U.S. government on Monday said that final payments to private health insurers for 2015 private Medicare Advantage plans would rise 0.4 percent for the average plan compared with a proposed cut of 1.9 percent.

During a news briefing, the health agency said that costs for Medicare health services continued to drop and that it now expected a decline of 3.4 percent versus the 1.9 percent on which it initially based its payments.

In addition, the agency said that it would delay other changes to risk adjustments and for requiring home health assessments, which will effectively lessen the cuts to insurers.

The proposed cuts were announced on Feb. 21. The final document was released on Monday by a division of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It affects private insurers such as UnitedHealth Group Inc, Humana Inc and Aetna Inc that provide Medicare Advantage.

(Reporting by Caroline Humer; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)