We’ve written about the hypocritical nature of Joe Biden’s attacks on the Republicans over Social Security and Medicare, with the Biden administration targeting Medicare Advantage. Almost 50 percent of the people eligible for Medicare opt for Medicare Advantage, so anything that would affect the program could affect a lot of people.
We reported back in February about how Biden got fact-checked by Twitter that month for lying about the Republicans. But that was particularly disgraceful, when he was proposing moves that could result in cuts to payments to Medicare Advantage insurers.
The 2024 Medicare Advantage and Part D Advance Notice, released in February, proposed a 1.03 percent average Medicare Advantage revenue increase driven by a 2.09 percent growth rate, but insurers have argued that because of other changes, it would represent a 3.7 percent cut.
As I wrote at the time:
House Republican Study Committee (RSC) Chairman Kevin Hern (R-OK) sounded an alarm about what the Biden administration was doing. Hern warned where Biden was going with this, “Biden just cut nearly $5 billion in funding for Medicare Advantage, and this is just his first step. The end goal is to get everyone – not just seniors – onto government-controlled, Medicare-for-All plans.”
That probably explains why Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has been one of the biggest proponents for these Biden moves. Medicare Advantage represents a public-private company program that people like with good services and broad support. But that stands in the way of Medicare for All, and some on the left don’t like that.
However, Medicare Advantage has had bipartisan support, and people on both sides of the aisle have called on the administration to sustain it. It’s supported by a bipartisan majority of the Senate including Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto, Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ), Jon Tester (D-MT), Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). The bipartisan group wrote a letter imploring CMS to “continue to sustain and strengthen Medicare Advantage.”
Even the Governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, a member of the New Progressives, was very upset. Pierluisi told the Biden administration that the preliminary plan to regulate 2024 Medicare Advantage reimbursements, which could lead to a reduction of $800 million annually in payments to these health plans on the island, would represent “the biggest cut in federal funds for health care in Puerto Rico’s history.” Pierluisi called on Secretary Xavier Becerra to stop the changes in Medicare Advantage plan reimbursements.
However, now they’ve finalized the Medicare Advantage rates for 2024, according to Bloomberg, and they would reportedly result in a 1.12 percent cut for plans, after stripping out the expected impact of how plans report patient illnesses. The rate wasn’t as much as the Biden administration had intended, after a lot of backlash on the issue about what had originally been proposed.
But they’re also going to phase in some of the changes that determine payments based on the severity of patients’ health problems, having them take effect over three years instead of immediately over one year. That’s why there’s going to be a smaller-than-anticipated drop in the first year. So, it’s a bit of smoke and mirrors here, yet they’re still going down the same problematic road.
Bloomberg notes, insurers “will now have to determine whether to maintain generous benefits that help attract customers, such as zero premiums” or fall back on “more costly plans.” Either way, it is not going to be good for the 30 million Medicare Advantage consumers, and that’s going to be right at the foot of the hypocritical Biden administration.
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