Republican Tom Rooney, a Tea Partier from Florida delivered the weekly GOP address on Saturday echoing the letter House leadership sent to the President earlier in the week decrying the “President’s cuts” to Medicare, cuts which they all, including Rooney, voted in favor of three times. In fact Rooney has a history of voting the party line with a record of voting with the party 94% of the time.
The letter signed by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), Republican Conference Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA), Energy & Commerce Chair Fred Upton (R-MI) and Ways & Means Chair Dave Camp (R-MI) began with, “We write to express deep concern about the impact of the cuts imposed by your health care law on the Medicare Advantage (MA) program and the recent action by [the Center For Medicare & Medicaid Services] to fundamentally dismantle the Medicare prescription drug program. These cuts, in addition to proposed rules issued by CMS, will force millions of American seniors to face higher health care costs or lose access to their doctor, health plan, lifesaving drugs, and the benefits they’ve come to rely on.”
These cuts which they are now attacking the President with were included in Representative Paul Ryan’s (R-WI) 2011, 2012 and 2013 budgets all of which were unanimously approved by Congressional Republicans.
It is also disingenuous to refer to them as cuts to Medicare as the cuts are in payments made to the insurance industry which had been over paying providers for services bringing those payments more into line with comparable payments from traditional Medicare.
“Medicare Advantage plans have been unfairly subsidized for years, causing not only higher expenditures by the federal government, but also higher premiums for traditional Medicare beneficiaries,” said Tim Jost, a health care expert at Washington & Lee University. “Prior to the Affordable Care Act they were being overpaid by 14 percent compared to traditional Medicare.”
In his address Rooney said, “To help pay for his health care law, the president made deep cuts to the successful Medicare Advantage program, which serves nearly 30 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries. This includes seniors with low incomes, patients with chronic conditions, and Americans in rural areas.”
What the President proposed and what Rooney and the rest of his fellow Republicans voted for was designed to not only save Medicare money but to ensure its solvency for at least another decade, if anyone is harming the beneficiaries of the program it is the private insurers who are raising rates and shrinking their networks reducing the availability of physicians to seniors.
You can hear Representative Rooney’s address in the video below.
h/t: Think Progress