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Senators Sign On to Medicare Advantage Defender Team

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What You Need to Know

  • One budget group has cut $200 billion in funding for drugs, Medicare providers and Medicare Advantage plans.
  • The Medicare Advantage defender team sent a letter of support to Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the head of the agency that oversees Medicare.
  • The Republicans on the list are Shelley Moore-Capito, Deb Fischer, Marco Rubio, Tim Scott and Todd Young.

Thirteen members of the Senate have teamed up to try to take the “cut my funding” sign off the back of Medicare Advantage program funding.

The initial list of senators trying to shield Medicare Advantage against aggressive budget-cutting includes five Republicans, seven Democrats and an independent who typically votes with the Democrats.

The Medicare Advantage program gives private organizations a chance to use a combination of government funding and enrollee premiums to provide an alternative to traditional Medicare coverage. About 28 million of the 63 million Medicare enrollees have Medicare Advantage plan coverage.

Critics say the government spends about 3% more on Medicare Advantage enrollees than on traditional Medicare program enrollees. One group says an easy way for Congress to free up $200 billion would be to cut Medicare spending on drugs, payments to providers, and payments to Medicare Advantage plans.

Supporters say the Medicare Advantage program provides richer, better-coordinated coverage, with much lower out-of-pocket costs for enrollees who may, on average, face more health and economic obstacles than typical enrollees in the traditional Medicare program.

The Names

The Republicans on the list are Shelley Moore-Capito, of West Virginia; Deb Fischer, of Nebraska; Marco Rubio, of Florida; Tim Scott, of South Carolina; and Todd Young, of Indiana.

Two of the Democrats on the list are centrists who are seen as having the ability to block passage of the big Democratic infrastructure and social welfare package bills: Joe Manchin, of West Virginia, and Kyrsten Sinema, of Arizona.

The other Democrats signing on are Mark Kelly, of Arizona; Gary Peters, of Michigan; Jacky Rosen, of Nevada; Jeanne Shaheen, of New Hampshire; and Jon Tester, of Montana.

Angus King, a senator from Maine, is the independent supporting the effort.

Both America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Better Medicare Alliance put out statements welcoming the letter.

The Letter

The Medicare Advantage defender team has sent a public letter to Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the agency that oversees Medicare and the Medicare Advantage program.

The senators told Brooks-LaSure that payment stability is critical to protecting the Medicare Advantage program.

“As Congress and the administration work together to find opportunities to promote better access to care and reduce costs, ensuring that MA’s care delivery model remains strong and stable should remain a priority,” the senators wrote. “The MA program is essential to fulfilling the CMS’s commitment to improving and delivering high-quality, accessible, affordable, and equitable care choices to Medicare beneficiaries.”

The senators said they stand ready to protect the Medicare Advantage program from payment cuts.

The U.S. Capitol (Photo: Shutterstock)