Are you as shocked as Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY)? Somehow, I rather doubt it, and I don’t think Jason Mattera is as surprised as the front-page pic suggests, either. Confronted with the new CBO analysis that shows more than seven million Americans will lose their present health-insurance coverage from ObamaCare despite his repeated assertions that no one would lose their coverage, Rep. Engel tells Jason in this Andrea Tantaros Show video debuting exclusively at Hot Air that Congress can always go back and fix what’s not working.
Funny — Jason doesn’t recall that being mentioned as an option, and neither do I:
Of course, Nancy Pelosi did tell us that we needed to pass the bill to see what was in it. How’s that working out for us?
Not so hot, as it turns out, and it’s about to get worse for seniors in Medicare Advantage plans. Avik Roy reminds us that CMS helpfully postponed the deep cuts to the program until after the election so as to remove all of that messy accountability that politicians despise, and “the boom” is coming:
Though Democrats denied it during the 2012 campaign, Obamacare cut Medicare by $716 billion in order to partially fund $1.9 trillion in new entitlement spending over the next ten years. A big chunk of those Medicare cuts came from the market-oriented Medicare Advantage program. Cleverly, the Obama administration postponed the Medicare Advantage cuts until after the election, so as to persuade seniors that everything would be just fine. But the election is over. On Friday, the administration announced that it would be significantly reducing funding for the popular program. Obama’s proposal, according to one analyst, “would turn almost every plan in the industry unprofitable.”
Democrats have long been hostile to the Medicare Advantage program, which allows seniors to get their Medicare coverage through plans administered by private insurers. Today, more than a quarter of retirees get their coverage through Medicare Advantage, and the program has experienced rapid growth over the past decade. Richard Foster, the recently-retired chief actuary of the Medicare program, has projected that Obamacare’s cuts to Medicare Advantage would force half of its current enrollees to switch back to the old, 1965-vintage Medicare program. Robert Book and James Capretta estimate that this will cost enrollees an average of $3,714 in 2017 alone.
The new rates proposed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, a.k.a. CMS, will have the net effect of reducing payments to Medicare Advantage plans by 7 to 8 percent in 2014, according to Citi managed care analyst Carl McDonald. “This includes the 2.3% reduction in per capita growth rate announced by CMS on Friday, and estimated 2-3% drop as rates move to parity with fee for service…a 1.5% reduction associated with the change in coding intensity adjustment” and the 2% health insurance premium tax. “These negatives are partially offset by an estimated 1% benefit from improved Star quality ratings, re-basing, better risk scores, and fee for service normalization, resulting in an overall decline of 7-8%,” wrote McDonald yesterday in a note to clients.
Because the typical for-profit managed care plan targets profit margins of only 5 percent, and non-profits even less, the net consequence would “turn almost every plan in the industry unprofitable,” according to McDonald, unless CMS changes its proposal. “If implemented, these rates and the program changes CMS 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.”
B-b-b-b-but if you like your plan, you can keep your plan! That’s what Obama and Democrats like Engel told Americans for months, and even years … until Obama was safely re-elected. Eliot Engel has this message for his constituents (NSFW):