- Created on Friday, 22 February 2013 19:46
- Written by AMAC
Imperial, California - "President Obama is sticking it to seniors yet again by cutting Medicare Advantage funding," according to Dan Weber, president of the Association of Mature American Citizens.
It was announced last week that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services [CMS] will publish new rules for Medicare Advantage programs on April 1. Subsidies will be slashed and access will be severely restricted, according to insurance industry analysts.
"AMAC has been actively lobbying for legislative relief ever since we first began reporting the President's intentions regarding Medicare Advantage last year. Mr. Obama deceptively avoided any discussion of the program cuts prior to the election and the mainstream media obliged him by not bringing up the subject," Weber said.
The president had another thing going for him, the complexity of the Medicare Advantage program, itself, he added. "MA coverage and costs vary from locality to locality across the country, and so the impact of the cuts will also vary.
Weber noted that the cuts are not a done deal until CMS publishes its new rules and said there is still time to set things right. The CMS has the ability to bend the rules if enough pressure is exerted by interested parties, including lawmakers and health industry groups-especially considering the fact that the Advantage cuts will be chaotic and disruptive, he explained. "We may not get a permanent fix, but perhaps we can get a temporary reprieve during which time a longer-term compromise may be possible."
But he lamented the fact that AMAC may be the only senior citizen advocate making its voice heard on Capitol Hill regarding this issue. "Perhaps it is because there is general agreement that Medicare spending is growing at too fast a pace."
Weber acknowledged that something must be done to reduce federal spending for such programs as Medicare, but said that there are other ways of doing it, such as gradually increasing the eligibility age for Medicare.
"However, in this instance the billions that will be cut from the Advantage program is far from a spending reduction. The money will be used for new, costly entitlements such as buying smart phones for the needy."
He noted that the health insurance industry echoes the frustration of the nation's seniors over the imminent Medicare Advantage cuts. For example, Karen Ignani, president and CEO of the industry trade group, AHIP, was quick to issue a statement after the funding reductions were announced.
She said: "The proposed changes to Medicare Advantage payments are a crushing blow to the 14 million seniors and people with disabilities who count on this critically important part of Medicare. The combined effect of the ACA cuts and new proposed payment changes will likely result in seniors facing higher out-of-pocket costs, reduced benefits, and fewer health care choices."