Lawmakers pile on against Medicare Advantage cut

More lawmakers are joining the effort to stop the Obama administration's proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage.

In a letter sent Wednesday, nearly 200 members of the House urged administration officials to keep Medicare Advantage rates flat to avoid harming seniors' care.

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The effort was spearheaded by Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-La.), who is hoping to unseat Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) in November.

"Medicare Advantage serves our constituents well, particularly those with high rates of chronic disease," the lawmakers wrote.

"We believe that the cuts … are inconsistent with our healthcare policy goals to promote more high quality, coordinated care for Medicare beneficiaries."

Fifty Democrats signed on to Wednesday's letter, including Blue Dog Democrat Rep. John Barrow (Ga.), highlighting the issue's political potency.

"Georgia is home to hundreds of thousands of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries who are worried about the stability of the program," Barrow said in a statement.

"Further cuts to Medicare Advantage would dramatically alter the standard of care that folks have come to rely on."

Federal health officials are proposing a reimbursement cut of roughly 2 percent on average for Medicare Advantage plans next year, and are expected to make a final decision on April 1. Outside analyses have found the cut may be as high as 6 percent based on other factors.

The reduction reflects cuts ordered by the Affordable Care Act and an annual update determined by the Medicare agency.

Obama officials and many Democrats argue that the private insurance plans under Medicare Advantage are significantly overpaid compared with traditional Medicare.

Paring back reimbursements is the fair and fiscally responsible move, they assert.

The private program receives more funding on average per beneficiary thanks to GOP-backed policies.

The insurance industry has launched a substantial lobbying campaign against the Medicare Advantage cuts.

—This post was updated at 11:15 a.m.

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