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Critical Condition

NRO’s health-care blog.

Medicare Advantage Confusion



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The president is trying to make it seem like the only cuts in the Medicare program he is advocating are for Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. That’s demonstrably not true. The chief actuary has raised concerns about the payment-rate reductions that the Democrats are pushing for hospitals in the traditional program. He believes those cuts will harm access to care. That’s one of the points Rep. Paul Ryan made earlier.

Regarding Medicare Advantage, there were several assertions made by the president that also are not true. First, MA enrollees tend to have lower income than the average Medicare beneficiary. Second, the cuts will come right out of benefits. That’s why seniors sign up with the MA plans — to get better benefits that the president would take away.

Here’s what Republicans should say: The president says he want to save money in Medicare Advantage with competitive bidding. But he would leave the traditional program out of the bidding. That’s a one-sided proposal. If he wants competitive bidding, Republicans should say, “Fine.” But it has to include the entire program. And then watch how fast the Democrats run away from the idea.



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