By Mario Trujillo - 03/15/14 06:00 AM EDT
Republicans are warning President Obama not to create "hundreds of thousands of broken promises" by going forward with cuts to Medicare Advantage, a private health insurance alternative for seniors.
In Saturday's GOP address, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) said the proposed cuts would conflict with Obama's message that he does not want to get between people and their doctors.
In an effort to equalize higher Medicare Advantage funding levels with traditional Medicare levels, the healthcare law plans to reduce funding to the program by $200 billion in the next decade.
Medicare Advantage would see payments reduced by 2 percent on average under a proposed plan released in February, though some analysts find it could be higher. The plan is expected to be finalized in April.
Republicans, the insurance industry and some Democrats have spoken out fiercely against the change. Earlier this week, a group of 200 House members sent a letter to Obama calling on him to keep the rates flat because the cuts are "inconsistent with our healthcare policy goals" of improving care for seniors. Fifty Democrats signed on to the letter.
"This is about keeping the promises we make to the American people," Johnson said.
He added that members urged the president "to listen to stories of seniors in Florida paying more money for fewer choices, less access, and far less peace of mind."
"Still nothing,” he declared.
Medicare Advantage, in which Medicare pays a private insurance company to cover costs, makes up about 30 percent of all Medicare enrollees. Johnson said Ohio alone has nearly 800,000 seniors enrolled.
"Older Americans deserve better," he said. "They deserve the benefits they were promised. If the president won’t help us repeal this law in its entirety, he ought to step up here, do the right thing, and protect our seniors. And he ought to do this soon."