During the 2012 election campaign, Democrats denied that ObamaCare made $716 billion in cuts to Medicare in order to provide funding toward $1.9 trillion in new entitlement spending over the next ten years.
In an announcement on Friday, however, the Obama administration revealed that it would be significantly reducing funding for Medicare, a move that one health insurance analyst said “would turn almost every plan in the industry unprofitable.”
Health insurance stocks tumbled following the announcement that a big chunk of the Medicare cuts would come from the popular Medicare Advantage program, a market-oriented system in which participants can choose coverage by a private company that contracts with Medicare to provide all Part A and Part B benefits.
According to health care analyst Carl McDonald, the new rates proposed by the Obama administration will have the net effect of reducing payments to Medicare Advantage plans by seven to eight percent in 2014. McDonald projects:
If implemented, these rates and the program changes CMS [Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] is suggesting would be enormously disruptive to Medicare Advantage, likely forcing a number of smaller plans out of the business and creating disarray for many seniors.
According to Richard Foster, former chief actuary to the Medicare program, ObamaCare’s cuts to Medicare Advantage will likely force half of its current participants back into the old Medicare program, originated in 1965. It is estimated that this change will cost Medicare enrollees an average of $3,714 in 2017 alone.
Democrats have long been unfriendly toward the Medicare Advantage plan, which was passed as part of the Balanced Budget Amendment of 1997 and has seen tremendous growth over the past 10 years. Today, more than 25 percent of seniors receive their health benefits through Medicare Advantage.
Regarding the cuts, America’s Health Insurance Plans’ (AHIP) president Karen Ignagni said, “Washington cannot tax and cut Medicare Advantage this much and not expect seniors to be harmed.”
Last year it was revealed that, while AHIP was openly supporting ObamaCare and working on a deal with the White House, it was also secretly funneling over $100 million to the Chamber of Commerce to be spent on advertising designed to convince Americans that the new legislation should be defeated.
The administration’s proposal is open to outside comments until March 1st, ahead of the final announcement of the cuts on April 1st.