Dems side with GOP over Medicare cuts

Nineteen Democratic senators signed a letter Tuesday to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services warning of the dire consequences for seniors if cuts to Medicare Advantage go through as expected later this month.


The letter was signed by party heavyweights, including Sen. Charles SchumerChuck SchumerSenate panel splits along party lines on Becerra House Democrats' ambitious agenda set to run into Senate blockade A Biden stumble on China? MORE (D-N.Y.), as well as vulnerable Democrats facing reelection, such as Sens. Mark PryorMark Lunsford PryorEverybody wants Joe Manchin Cotton glides to reelection in Arkansas Live updates: Democrats fight to take control of the Senate MORE (D-Ark.) and Mary LandrieuMary Loretta LandrieuCassidy wins reelection in Louisiana Bottom line A decade of making a difference: Senate Caucus on Foster Youth MORE (D-La.).

Twenty-one Republicans also signed the letter. The GOP has sought to make cuts to Medicare Advantage an election-year issue.
“We write to raise serious concerns about the Medicare Advantage (MA) 2015 rate notice and the impact further cuts may have on the millions of individuals enrolled in the program,” the senators write. “We are strongly committed to preserving the high quality health plan choices and benefits that our constituents receive through the MA program. Given the impact that payment policies could have on our constituents, we ask that you prioritize beneficiaries’ experience and minimize disruption in maintaining payment levels for 2015.”
Tuesday’s letter comes after a similar appeal from House Republican leaders last week, who wrote to President Obama voicing their “deep concern” over expected cuts to the Medicare Advantage program that they blame on the president’s healthcare law.
ObamaCare enacted $200 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage over 10 years.
The administration is expected to announce 2015 rates for the alternative to government health insurance later this week. Insurers have mounted an intense lobbying campaign to head off expected cuts to the popular program.
The issue is particularly sensitive during an election year as both parties court senior voters, who make up a disproportionate percentage of the voting population.
“MA has been a great success and should remain a competitive choice for our constituents,” the senators said. “Unfortunately, continued regulatory changes that affect the program’s funding, year after year, create disruption and confusion among beneficiaries who are looking for consistency and predictability.”
“We ask that you carefully examine the MA program and make policy changes for 2015 that ensure continued access and high quality care for America’s seniors, persons with disabilities and other beneficiaries. Funding stability is key to building upon MA’s successful coordinated care health outcomes,” the letter continues.