Hern leads Ways & Means Republicans on letter in support of Medicare Advantage
Representative Kevin Hern (OK-01) led Republican members of the House Committee on Ways and Means on a letter to Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging protection of the Medicare program as it inches closer to insolvency. The letter calls on Democrat leadership to reconsider proposals that threaten the Medicare Advantage program for seniors.
The letter was entered into the record during last week’s Ways and Means markup during debate for an amendment offered by Rep. Hern that would require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to certify that Medicare Advantage plans would not be cut under the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion spending plan.
The letter is supported by Heritage Action.
Garrett Bess, Vice President of Heritage Action said, "Currently, Medicare is set to become insolvent in 2026. However, instead of working to address solvency issues and guarantee health care for America's seniors, Democrats have opted to pour more funding into long time, left-wing political agendas that ultimately will result in less health care coverage. With this in mind, we applaud Rep. Hern for putting Speaker Pelosi on notice for playing politics with seniors’ healthcare benefits."
Rep. Hern was joined in this effort by Representatives Drew Ferguson (GA-03), Devin Nunes (CA-22), Adrian Smith (NE-03), Jackie Walorski (IN-02), Mike Kelly (PA-16), David Schweikert (AZ-05), Carol Miller (WV-03), Tom Reed (NY-23), Darin LaHood (IL-18), Jason Smith (MO-08), Brad Wenstrup (OH-02), Jodey Arrington (TX-19), Tom Rice (SC-07), and Lloyd Smucker (PA-11).
In 2003, Congress created Medicare Advantage as an alternative option for seniors’ healthcare. Medicare Advantage offers seniors the choice to pick private health plans that provide more comprehensive health benefits, including hearing, dental and vision services. As part of the partisan reconciliation process, Democrats proposed legislation that threatens the Medicare Advantage program last week, in which more than 26 million seniors are enrolled in.
The text of the letter is here and below.
H-232, U.S. Capitol Building
Washington, DC 20515
September 10, 2021
We write to urge you to protect seniors’ access to private health care coverage. Congress must work together to protect and improve Medicare, not move closer to insolvency. Recent proposals reportedly under consideration in the upcoming partisan Reconciliation bill threaten the future of Medicare Advantage and put Medicare’s financial stability at risk.
As you know, roughly 26 million seniors1 have enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans that offer either hearing, dental, or vision coverage and in 2021, 98% of Medicare beneficiaries were eligible for Medicare plans that offered some hearing, dental, and vision benefits2. Additionally, more than 94% of seniors enrolled in individual Medicare Advantage plans have insurance that typically pays 50%-100% of the cost of common dental services, much more than the meager 10% proposed in recent Democratic legislative proposals3,4. Expanding Medicare programs to offer benefits with less coverage than already available is nonsensical and deeply misleading to seniors.
The choice between continuing to modernize our Medicare system or doubling down on the outdated Fee-for-Service system comes at a critical time. The recent 2021 Medicare Trustees Report estimates that the program will become insolvent in 2026. With this projection, we are officially the closest we’ve been to Medicare insolvency since 1998.
With recent spending reaching several trillion dollars to fight the pandemic, and the trust fund being exhausted in the next five years, we should be taking steps to ensure our commitment to our nation’s seniors by building on the successes of Medicare Advantage. Now is not the time to put misleading political priorities ahead of the financial certainty of seniors’ healthcare benefits.