Funding cuts to the Medicare Advantage program could cause more than 3 million people to lose their coverage, a new study asserts.

That would be the equivalent of around a third of all Medicare Advantage recipients, many of whom are low-income and minority beneficiaries, according to the study, released by the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, Chicago.

Half of all states would lose more than 50,000 enrollees if Congress adopted funding cuts recommended by the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, according to the study, which was conducted by Kenneth Thorpe and Adam Atherly of Emory University, Atlanta.

Beneficiaries in Ohio and Pennsylvania would be hardest hit, with around 196,000 people losing coverage in each state, Thorpe and Atherly calculate. Michigan and Texas also would face dramatic reductions: 180,000 and 173,000 beneficiaries, respectively.

MA plans provided more than $5 billion dollars in supplemental benefits in 2006, up from $3 billion in 2005, according to Thorpe and Atherly.