Dems ask Obama to stop health cuts

Several Democrats took to the House floor Thursday night to call on the Obama administration not to cut Medicare Advantage payment rates.

The Democratic speeches opposing Obama are a turnaround from the usual fare in the House, which routinely sees Republicans stand up to oppose the implementation of ObamaCare. But pending cuts to the Medicare Advantage program proposed by the administration in February are opposed by many Democrats, and the cuts threaten to play into the midterm elections this year.

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Medicare Advantage is a health program offered through private companies, but it is subsidized by the government and acts as another healthcare option aside from Medicare. ObamaCare calls for cuts to equalize government payments for Medicare and Medicare Advantage.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is expected to announce a final decision on cuts next week, but Democrats today said the idea should be scrapped.

"The additional proposed cuts to the program released in February have raised grave concern from my constituents about their coverage and about the potential of having to pay more and having fewer benefits," Rep. Patrick Murphy (D-Fla.) said.

"That is why we are here today urging the administration to reverse course and keep rates flat for 2015."

"We are here today because CMS ... has proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage," said Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.). "Next week, CMS will publish its final rule.

"I urge CMS to not cut Medicare Advantage. These cuts will decrease choice, create uncertainty and undermine access to care for our seniors. I oppose these cuts."

Other Democrats said that millions of people around the country rely on Medicare Advantage and thousands of people in their districts would be affected by the cuts.

"The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently proposed a 5.9 percent cut to this program, which could result in a reduction of benefits and increased premiums on Medicare beneficiaries by $35 to $75 a month," Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga.) said. "That's an added cost that many seniors simply cannot afford to pay every single month.

"I urge the administration to take a long, hard look at how these cuts would affect the everyday lives of our seniors."

"They will mean fewer benefits, fewer doctors and less choice," Rep. Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) said. "This is wrong, and we cannot let it happen.

"I oppose these cuts, and I have called upon the president to reverse course and protect this critical program."

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