Politics /

Biden’s War on Medicare

  |   By Lou Dobbs Staff

This story originally was published by Real Clear Wire

By Newt Gingrich & Jim Frogue
Real Clear Wire

President Joe Biden’s full-frontal assault on Medicare is becoming visible to America’s seniors. It will result in fewer patient choices, reduced benefits, and ultimately worse health outcomes. Biden’s efforts, assisted by Congressional Democrats, are destroying Medicare Advantage and Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.

Medicare Advantage was originally created as Medicare Part C in 1997 when I was Speaker of the House. It was introduced to create more comprehensive health plan options for seniors that included, for the first time, prescription drug coverage. The idea was to leverage consumer choice and market competition by insurers. Seniors can change plans annually for any reason.

More than 30 million seniors are in Medicare Advantage, which is more than half of all Medicare-eligible seniors. Enrollment has been on a “steady climb for the for past two decades,” according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. All MA enrollees have voluntarily chosen to join because it is better for their health.

A 2021 poll by Better Medicare Alliance showed seniors in MA have a 98 percent satisfaction rate. Ninety-five percent said it is important to have options beyond traditional Medicare. Ninety-three percent said a candidate’s position on MA would affect their vote. A bipartisan poll by the Healthcare Leadership Council in November, 2023 found more than 9-in-10 said they were pleased with their MA coverage.

Last week, CVS Aetna Chief Financial Officer Tom Cowhey told investors that the company may shed up to 10 percent of their four million MA enrollees next year. Humana CFO Susan Diamond suggested 5 percent of their enrollees may be dropped. This translates into as many as 1.5 million seniors losing their coverage of choice. And this figure is dwarfed by the millions of MA beneficiaries who will see reduced coverage around prescription drugs, vision, dental, transportation, gym memberships, and many other popular benefits that are only offered in Medicare Advantage.

A new report by the Kaiser Family Foundation noted that most states offer Medicare Advantage plans to their state retirees. Twelve states, including key swing states Pennsylvania, Arizona, and Georgia, offer only Medicare Advantage plans. Senior voters in Philadelphia’s Main Line are unlikely to appreciate attacks on Medicare Advantage.

Biden’s war on Medicare doesn’t end with just Medicare Advantage. The so-called Inflation Reduction Act – passed in 2022 with exclusively Democratic votes and was signed into law by President Biden – is wrecking the popular Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage.

Medicare Part D was created by Congressional Republicans in 2003 and was signed into law by President George W. Bush. For nearly two decades, Part D prescription drug-only plans were stable, affordable, competitive, and did something truly amazing for a health care program – stayed within original budget projections. To the surprise of even the bill’s authors, more than 1,000 plans signed up to participate within a year.

The Democrats promised that their Inflation Reduction Act would increase drug coverage for seniors and limit their out-of-pocket costs to $2,000 per year in 2025. It also allows seniors to pay their drug costs in installments. Sounds great. But seniors will be shocked on Oct. 1 when their Part D premiums skyrocket. Premiums were up 21percent last year and are likely to jump 50 percent this year. Awkward timing for Biden and fellow Democrats who are hoping to campaign on “lowering prescription drug costs.”

The Inflation Reduction Act is negatively impacting patient cost-sharing for prescription drugs in Medicare Part B as well. According to a new analysis in the trade publication Drug Channels, the inflation adjuster for most drugs is increasing instead of decreasing. Even instances where a drug price may be declining, it could still trigger big jumps in patient out-of-pocket costs.

IRA proponents boasted of their Medicare reforms saving $266 billion from 2023 to 2031. Even if that projection ends up holding true (and it doesn’t look likely), that amount is only a partial down payment on $670 billion for the IRA’s various green energy tax credits and new environmental spending.

How well is the Biden administration’s green energy spending going? The $7.5 billion in federal spending has resulted in only eight new charging stations for electric vehicles. And this at the same time consumer interest in electric cars is plummeting.

It is well known that the political left in America wants to move us toward government-run single payer health care. Imagine just one insurer and if you don’t like it you can’t leave. So, it is no surprise that Democrats would want to destroy the private sector’s involvement in Medicare, no matter how popular with seniors. But it is somewhat surprising that Democrats would be so politically obtuse to have smoking wreckage appear just before the presidential election. It remains to be seen if Republicans will capitalize.

Newt Gingrich was Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995-1999 and a candidate for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. He is chairman of Gingrich 360. James Frogue was a senior health policy advisor to Trump for President in 2016. He is cofounder of FrogueClark .

This article was originally published by RealClearPolicy and made available via RealClearWire.

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