Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.
Although neither customarily wears a white beard, if the gift you wanted was that the government continue to fund the insurance industry’s Medicare Advantage program, you got your present … and let’s give credit to Rick Nolan, John Kline and over 150 other Members of Congress.
But like with most Christmas presents, the bills must be paid by someone. In this case the government … hence the taxpayers.
John Kline’s efforts were previously recognized in Buyer Beware : John Kline Fear Mongers Medicare ADVANTAGE which critiqued his OpEd statement
Adding insult to injury, the Obama administration recently disclosed $200 billion in Obamacare-mandated cuts to Medicare Advantage. Last year, about 415,000 Minnesotans depended on this program. One estimate projects these cuts will be passed on to seniors through higher costs and reduced benefits, with premiums projected to increase by up to $900 per year.
Meanwhile Rick Nolan was one of many who wrote letters to the Administrator of Medicare encouraging that rates remain stable. Even though Representative Nolan was protesting, he was subject to negative campaign ads by Norm Coleman’s American Action Network.
Well, Virginia, Santa Claus left a present for you … no reductions in payments to the insurance companies that offer Medicare Advantage programs … in fact, the Obama Administration has rejected a 1.9% cut as suggested by Medicare Payment Advisory Commission (MedPac). MedPac is an independent Congressional agency which voted 16-0 recommending these cuts.
But the Obama Administration did not only hear the plea of John Kline not to cut funding, nor Rick Nolan’s plea to keep the rate stable, they are increasing funding by 0.4%.
As fiscal conservatives know Medicare Advantage has always cost more than traditional Medicare, meaning taxpayers are subsidizing insurance companies to do the same thing the government can do for less. Insurers argue that the government subsidies they get are passed along to beneficiaries in the form of added benefits (they always mention programs like Silver Sneakers), but analysis suggests that most of it is just padding the insurance companies’ bottom line.
So from a political standpoint, the Master Illusionist, John Kline has pulled another trick on the voters … yet he will, no doubt, continue to fear monger that cuts are coming.
Yet, not so good news for Rick Nolan … despite his efforts, the Norm Coleman-backed groups will continue to misinform voters on the issue.
Expect to continue hear cries from health insurers, such America’s Health Insurance Plans’s president and CEO Karen Ignagni who said “We remain concerned about the impact year-over-year cuts to Medicare Advantage would have on the high-quality, affordable coverage millions of seniors like and rely on today” even though their seven-figure lobbying effort resulted in elimination of the needed cuts.
Sadly, fiscal conservatives know that this is not good government spending .. But the politicians like it.