What You Need to Know
- Medicare Advantage supporters rounded up 346 of the 435 available signatures in the House.
- The Medicare Advantage program needs friends partly because the federal government has a big budget deficit.
- Medicare Advantage critics say the programs cost more per enrollee than traditional Medicare does.
Medicare Advantage supporters are showing that they can line up big, bipartisan coalitions of lawmakers in both the House and the Senate.
Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, D-Nev., and Tim Scott, R-S.C., have persuaded 61 other senators to join with them in signing a letter asking Chiquita Brooks-LaSure, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services administrator, to do what she can to support Medicare Advantage program continuity in 2023.
In addition to Masto and Scott, the list includes Democrats such as Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota as well as Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona and Joe Manchin of West Virginia.
The list also includes Republicans Marco Rubio of Florida, Rick Scott of Florida and Susan Collins of Maine.
The list does not include either Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer or Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, and it does not include many of the most liberal senators, such as Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent.
Earlier, Medicare Advantage program supporters persuaded 346 of the 435 members of the House to sign a similar letter.
What It Means
Members of Congress have struggled for decades to work on a bipartisan basis on issues such as health system change, and creating and passing a big social welfare program bill.
But life insurers and health insurers have repeatedly organized coalitions that have pushed Democrats and Republicans to work together to pass bills.
Both President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump have developed legislative packages aimed mainly at lawmakers in their own parties and have generally struggled to pass anything other than big budget and emergency relief bills.
The success of insurers’ bipartisan legislative efforts could eventually increase policymakers’ interest in applying a bipartisan approach to other issues.
The Medicare Advantage Challenge
Medicare Advantage is a program that gives private insurers a chance to use a combination of federal money and enrollee premiums to offer comprehensive plans that serve as alternatives to traditional Medicare coverage.