Vulnerable Senate Democrats Align With GOP Over Medicare Cuts

Thursday, 20 Feb 2014 03:19 PM

By Courtney Coren

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Vulnerable Senate Democrats are aligning with Republicans and backtracking on an Obamacare provision that is set to make cuts to Medicare Advantage to pay for the new healthcare law.

Nineteen Democrats have joined 21 of their Republican colleagues in signing a letter urging Medicare Administrator Marilyn Tavenner to protect the Medicare plan passed under President George W. Bush, which is designed to give seniors more healthcare plan options from private insurers. Twenty-eight percent of seniors now participate in the plan, The Hill reported.

"We write to raise serious concerns about the Medicare Advantage 2015 rate notice and the impact further cuts may have on the millions of individuals enrolled in the program," the group of bipartisan senators wrote.

"We are strongly committed to preserving the high-quality health plan choices and benefits that our constituents receive through the MA program," they added. "Given the impact that payment policies could have on our constituents, we ask that you prioritize beneficiaries' experience and minimize disruption in maintaining payment levels for 2015."

The Health and Human Services Department announced in December that it was planning to cut Medicare Advantage 6 percent to 7 percent, which according to The Wall Street Journal is more than what is mandated by Obamacare.

Several of the Democrats who signed the letter are expected to face tough elections in November, including Sens. Kay Hagan of North Carolina, Mark Pryor of Arkansas, and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana.

"Their complaints would be more credible if they hadn't created the problem by voting for Obamacare, though in signing the letter they are conceding that the law has become a real political vulnerability," the Journal's editors write.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee sent out a press release Thursday  targeting Hagan for having a change of heart about Obamacare after promising in 2009 that the new law would not result in cuts to her constituents' Medicare benefits.

"Kay Hagan promised North Carolinians that Obamacare wouldn't harm seniors who rely on Medicare, but that wasn't true," said Brook Hougesen, NRSC press secretary. "Now even though Kay Hagan admits that she slashed Medicare Advantage to pay for Obamacare, she is trying to blame others for her broken promises."

The Journal concludes that the move by Democrats is "another indictment of the liberal healthcare agenda."

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