When Democrats included cuts to Medicare Advantage as part of their health care bill, Republicans unleashed an all-out assault, claiming in dozens of campaign ads and public statements that the move would harm seniors.
“Americans support reform,” Mitch McConnell said in 2009. “But higher premiums, higher taxes and cutting Medicare — that’s not reform.”
“What it’s going to do to our seniors, I have a message for you: You’re going to die sooner,” Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) said at the time.
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) authored an entire op-ed decrying the cuts in The Journal Times, warning they would “dramatically increase premiums for seniors or simply kill Medicare Advantage outright.” Speaker John Boehner warned of “massive cuts to Medicare benefits” in press releases.
And yet the new House GOP budget authored by Ryan himself and endorsed by Boehner includes exactly the same cuts to Medicare Advantage included in the Affordable Care Act — even as it repeals the rest of the bill and piles on trillions in additional cuts to seniors’ health care.Medicare Advantage was intended to use private insurers to bring down health care costs, but its higher overhead actually ended up costing more than Medicare. Democrats claimed the program was an inefficient waste that could run on less funding without reducing care for seniors. They used savings from the program to help pay for the Affordable Care Act’s expansion of coverage, which also benefited private insurers with a massive new pool of healthy customers.
In an interview with The Hill, the president of the American Hospital Association, Rich Umbendstock, decried the proposal as the worst of all worlds for the health care industry.
“The coverage expansions are rescinded, but the cuts remain,” Umbendstock said. “The two were coupled in healthcare reform… It’s unacceptable if just the cuts stand.”
Given the scale of rhetoric against the cuts over the last two years, it begs the question exactly what changed between the 2010 election, when ads like the one below by Republican House candidate Renee Ellmers were blanketing the airwaves, and today.