No politician who touches dares to touch entitlements comes out unscathed. Well, unless you’re Frank Underwood, who helped tackle the issue in House of Cards. But that’s fiction. This is reality, and it’s a reality that Sen. Kay Hagan (D-NC) is learning the hard way.
Hagan, who is facing an increasingly difficult battle for reelection, is a signer on a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that expresses concern about Medicare Advantage rate hikes for 2015.
“We write to raise serious concerns about the Medicare Advantage (MA) 2015 rate notice and the impact further cuts may have on the millions of individuals enrolled in the program,” says the letter signed by nearly two dozen senators, according to The Hill.
“We are strongly committed to preserving the high quality health plan choices and benefits that our constituents receive through the MA program,” the letter continues. “Given the impact that payment policies could have on our constituents, we ask that you prioritize beneficiaries’ experience and minimize disruption in maintaining payment levels for 2015.”
Medicare Advantage rates are rising to offset $200 billions in cuts to the program to help pay for Obamacare. Rates for seniors could rise between $420 and $900 in 2015, according to America’s Health Insurance Plans. Other signers to the letter include Sens. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) and Mark Pryor (D-AR), both of whom are vulnerable Democrats up for reelection this year.
Hagan not only voted for Obamacare in 2009, but she, along with Landrieu and Pryor, also voted in 2010 to block an attempt by Senate Republicans to protect the Medicare Advantage program. This, despite Hagan’s “guarantee” that there wouldn’t be cuts to Medicare.
Now, there’s no denying that Medicare has to be reformed in order to ensure its long-term viability, and it has to be done in a way that’s both patient-centered and doesn’t hurt the economy. But Medicare Advantage actually works, and its plans are less expensive and more efficient than traditional, government-run options.
Hagan’s sudden realization that cuts to the Medicare Advantage are bad news has less to do with looking out for the thousands of her constituents who rely on the program, and more to do with trying to save her political career.
H/T: Jim Geraghty