President Barack Obama has promised Americans on multiple occasions that his health care plan would not cut benefits for Medicare enrollees. For example, on August 11th Obama promised: “I just want to be clear, again: Seniors who are listening here, this does not affect your benefits. This is not money going to you to pay for your benefits; this is money that is subsidizing folks who don’t need it.”
The head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, told senators Tuesday that seniors in Medicare’s managed care plans would see reduced benefits under a bill in the Finance Committee.
The bill would cut payments to the Medicare Advantage plans by more than $100 billion over 10 years.
Elmendorf said the changes would reduce the extra benefits that would be made available to beneficiaries.
Heritage fellow Bob Moffit details just what the benefits are, including:
- prescription drug coverage
- preventive-care services
- coordinated care for chronic conditions
- routine physical examinations
- additional hospitalization
- skilled nursing facility stays
- routine eye and hearing examinations
- glasses and hearing aids
Medicare Advantage has several features that are superior to previous private health plan experiments: an improvement in financing and a greater level of market penetration and stability than Medicare Plus Choice. Most important, it gives senior and disabled citizens new and different private health plan options, more affordable care, and broader and better benefits, including care management programs and prescription drug coverage.
While these Medicare Advantage features are substantial improvements over traditional Medicare, the next stage of reform must also make the total program affordable, modernize its insurance arrangements, and improve the delivery of medical services.
For future generations to be able to afford Medicare, the program will have to be restructured and reformed. For that reform to be successful, Congress will have to reform the existing payment system and provide a fixed-contribution system of premium support, properly adjusted, for each beneficiary.