Healthcare

Conservative group launches ads against Obama Medicare ‘experiment’

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A conservative group is launching a multimillion-dollar ad campaign against a controversial Medicare drug pricing proposal from the Obama administration. 

{mosads}The American Action Network, which advocates for “center-right” policy, is putting forward a $4.8 million ad campaign against the proposal, which would change how Medicare pays for certain drugs with the aim of fighting high prices. 

The campaign, which includes print, mail, and digital ads targeting 61 congressional districts, focuses on Republican lawmakers. 

The ads follow a well-worn formula of warning seniors about changes to Medicare.

“When bureaucrats choose … Medicare patients lose,” the ads read.  

The example mail ad, referring to Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-Va.), reads “Tell Congresswoman Barbara Comstock to Continue Her fight to Protect Your Medicare.” 

At issue is a proposal put forward by the Obama administration in March that would change the way Medicare Part B pays for drugs. 

Currently, Medicare pays doctors the average price of a drug plus 6 percent. The administration warns that system gives doctors an incentive to prescribe higher-cost drugs so that they get paid more. The pilot program would reduce the 6 percent add-on to 2.5 percent plus a flat fee of about $16. 

The proposal has met stiff resistance from powerful lobbies like the pharmaceutical industry, and Republican lawmakers have called for scrapping the proposal. Many Democrats in Congress have expressed serious concerns while calling for changes instead of a total end to the proposal. 

The ads call for action on a bill from Rep. Larry Bucshon (R-Ind.) that would block the proposal. 

In June, an Obama administration health official told Congress that “adjustments” will be made to the proposal before it is finalized to address some concerns, but the administration is expected to go forward with the changes. The administration says the proposal will not harm seniors’ access to drugs. 

The American Action Network campaign also targets ObamaCare’s “Independent Payment Advisory Board,” a cost-cutting panel that has long drawn controversy over fears of bureaucrats meddling with Medicare 

The board has not actually been set up yet; Medicare cost growth has been low enough that the board has not been triggered.    

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