Republican Rep. Tom Rooney of Florida took aim today at Obamacare’s impact on older Americans, saying that seniors across the country are paying “more money for fewer choices, less access and far less peace of mind.”
In the GOP’s weekly address, Rooney castigated President Barack Obama’s very public pledge that Americans of all ages would be able to keep their doctors under the health law. Since the fall, the president has had to backtrack on that statement, acknowledging that the law was forcing changes in insurance plans that meant some people were losing their physicians.
“Here’s the reality,” Rooney said as he blamed Obamacare for “deep cuts” made to the popular Medicare Advantage program that serves low-income seniors, among others. “Constituents tell me they can no longer see the primary care physicians they have been going to for 10 and every 20 years,” he said. “One woman told me that four of her specialists have already been dropped from her plan.”
The truth is that Obamacare is helping, not hurting, seniors.
Medicare Advantage Plans were set up by George Bush as a way to reward insurance companies for all their contributions to the Republican Party. The initial law establishing the plans provided tremendous subsidies for insurance companies. The idea as initially argued by conservatives was that private insurance companies could provide health care more economically than the big bloated government Medicare program. Instead the government pays private insurance companies substantially more to treat Medicare patients than it costs to care for the same patients in the government plan. Any true Republican should think that private insurance companies should not need this corporate welfare.
The Affordable Care Act is paid for partially by reducing this corporate welfare, saving the tax payers about $136 billion over ten years. Private insurance companies will still receive plenty of money to care for seniors. Why should they need more money than it costs to treat them in the government program?
Medicare Advantage plans have been using limited panels for several years to try to save money. The Affordable Care Act does not change that, except now the insurance plans blame Obamacare for what they would do even if Obamacare did not exist.
The Affordable Care Act has helped seniors in many ways. It makes Medicare more sound financially. The donut holes in the drug benefit are being phased out, saving seniors money on their prescriptions. Preventative studies which previously were not covered are now covered by Medicare, saving seniors yet more money.
It is particularly absurd to expect seniors to turn to the Republicans when they have already voted for a plan which would end Medicare as we know it and force those on Medicare in the future to pay more out of their own pockets for health care coverage.
Cross posted at The Moderate Voice