Republicans have launched a party-wide blitz ahead of the 2014 elections attacking Medicare reimbursement cuts to private insurers, led by the same lawmakers who voted to make permanent.
The roughly $150 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage were imposed by Obamacare. But the same cuts were included in Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) budget blueprints in 2011, 2012 and 2013. — which nearly every House and Senate Republican voted for in each of those years.
Republican aides downplayed their role by pointing out that Ryan’s budgets don’t use the cuts to fund Obamacare. That’s true. But his budget assumes the same level of savings as a result of the Medicare Advantage reductions, instead using them to cover his tax cuts and meet his deficit-reduction targets. Republicans didn’t attempt to undo them even as the Ryan budgets repealed the rest of Obamacare. Now, with the mid-term election around the corner, they’re flooding the zone with scary warnings that the Medicare cuts would irreparably harm seniors.
Here are the most remarkable examples.
1. “Obamacare’s cuts to Medicare Advantage are hitting home for seniors. Independent actuaries at Oliver Wyman have estimated that the cumulative impact of these changes will increase costs or cut benefits for seniors dramatically. This is a significant blow to seniors, many of whom are on a fixed income.”
–Six top Senate Republicans who voted to continue the cuts: Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), Senate Minority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX), and Sens. John Thune (R-SD), John Barrasso (R-WY), Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Roy Blunt (R-MO), in a letter to the Obama administration dated Feb. 25, 2014.
2. “We write to express deep concern about the impact of the cuts imposed by
your health care law on the Medicare Advantage (MA) program. … These cuts, in addition to proposed rules issued by CMS, will force millions of American seniors to face higher health care costs or lose access to their doctor, health
plan, lifesaving drugs, and the benefits they’ve come to rely on.”
–Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and six top House Republicans who voted to continue the cuts: Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Energy & Commerce Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ways & Means Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) in a letter to President Barack Obama on Feb. 13, 2014.
3. “To help pay for his health care law, the president made deep cuts to the successful Medicare Advantage program, which serves nearly 30 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries. I’m hearing from seniors in my district who have already lost their doctors. Constituents tell me they can no longer see the primary care physicians they have been going to for ten and even twenty years. One woman told me that four of her specialists have already been dropped from her plan. … This is a breach of faith.”
–Rep. Tom Rooney (R-FL) in the GOP’s weekly address on Feb. 15. He voted to keep the same cuts three times in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
4. “These Medicare Advantage cuts are misguided, threaten a successful program for seniors, and must be overturned. Medicare Advantage is extremely popular for a reason – run through the private market, seniors gain access to high-quality and coordinated care with additional benefits that they otherwise wouldn’t get. Regrettably, this administration continues to undermine this critical program.”
–Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the ranking member of the Finance Committee, in a statement on Feb. 21. He voted to keep the same cuts in 2011, 2012 and 2013.
5. “Reducing payments to Medicare Advantage providers is going to constrain provider networks, it’s going to cut benefits, it’s going to increase seniors’ co-payments. This is going to hurt seniors of all backgrounds and income levels, and our state of Florida is going to be especially hurt by this.”
–Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), in a video message dated Feb. 21. He also voted to continue same cuts in 2011, 2012 and 2013.