Research

Factcheck.org Pans Mark Pryor’s Medicare Attack Ads

The Non-Partisan Factcheck.org Labeled Ads Being Run By Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) Attacking Republican Opponent Rep. Tom Cotton (R-AR) On Medicare As “Misleading.” “Democratic Sen. Mark Pryor taps his party’s playbook in attacking Republican challenger Tom Cotton for his support of Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare plan.  Two ads from Pryor make misleading claims about seniors’ costs rising or benefits being cut — the likes of which we’ve seen before. The Ryan Medicare plan has been a hot topic for Democratic attacks for several years running.” (Lori Robertson, “Fact Check: Old Medicare Claims In Ark. Senate Race,” Factcheck.org, 2/25/14)

Pryor’s Ads Rely “On The Assumptions Of Liberal Analyses” To Attack Cotton. “Both ads claim seniors would pay “thousands” more each year under Ryan’s plan. The claim relies on the assumptions of liberal analyses. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the plan could lead to higher costs to beneficiaries, but it didn’t offer an estimate.” (Lori Robertson, “Fact Check: Old Medicare Claims In Ark. Senate Race,” Factcheck.org, 2/25/14)

FactCheck.org: Pryor’s Ads “Peddle Critical Opinion On What Could Happen Under The Plan Cotton Supported As Clear-Cut Facts.” “As we’ve said before, both Democrats and Republicans want to reduce Medicare spending, but they disagree on how best to do that. (President Obama’s 2013 budget also called for capping the growth at GDP plus 0.5%.) It’s all a very interesting policy debate on how to cut the growth of Medicare spending. The Pryor ads, however, don’t allude to that. Instead, they peddle critical opinion on what could happen under the plan Cotton supported as clear-cut facts.” (Lori Robertson, “Fact Check: Old Medicare Claims In Ark. Senate Race,” Factcheck.org, 2/25/14)

THE ONLY CANDIDATE IN ARKANSAS WHO VOTED TO CUT MEDICARE IS MARK PRYOR

Last Week, The Centers For Medicare And Medicaid Services Announced A 3.55 Percent Payment Cut To Insurers Participating In The Medicare Advantage Program.  “Health insurers participating in the Medicare Advantage program for elderly Americans, including Humana Inc. (HUM) and UnitedHealth Group Inc. (UNH), face a payment cut of about 3.55 percent next year, the U.S. government said.” (Alex Wayne and Caroline Chen, “Humana, UnitedHealth Face About 3.6% Advantage Rate Cuts,” Bloomberg, 2/21/14)

Medicare’s Actuaries Have Predicted That Medicare Advantage Enrollment Will Drop For The First Time Since 2004 Due To ObamaCare’s Payment Cuts That Will “Cause Plans To Drop Out Or Reduce Benefits.” “About 15.9 million people, or about 30 percent of Medicare beneficiaries, are enrolled in Advantage plans this year, according to February data from the government. Next year may mark a turning point: Medicare’s actuaries estimate that enrollment will decline for the first time since 2004 because payment cuts will cause plans to drop out or reduce benefits.” (Alex Wayne and Caroline Chen, “Humana, UnitedHealth Face About 3.6% Advantage Rate Cuts,” Bloomberg, 2/21/14)

  • Insurers Say They Have Attempted To Cut Costs Without Cutting Benefits, But Eventually May Be Forced To Due To The ObamaCare Cuts. “Aetna, which has about 1 million Medicare Advantage members, said that to keep costs in line with cuts in recent years, it has changed its network of doctors and hospitals to be more cost-effective, among other efforts.  ‘If you can’t solve the reduction based on those activities, then you have to resort to things that are much more visible to the beneficiaries, which can range from benefit reductions, and either premium increases or the introduction of a premium,’ said Fran Soistman, executive vice president and head of Government Services at Aetna.” (Caroline Humer, “U.S. Health Insurers Brace For New Steep Medicare Cuts,” Reuters, 2/20/14)

Last Year, Insurers Simply Eliminated Entire Plans After Medicare Advantage Rates Were Cut By Six Percent. “Another possibility for insurers is eliminating plans and withdrawing from certain markets. Many did that last year after the government cut rates by nearly 6 percent.” (Caroline Humer, “U.S. Health Insurers Brace For New Steep Medicare Cuts,” Reuters, 2/20/14)

98,322 Arkansans Were Enrolled In A Medicare Advantage Plan As Of June 2013. (Marsha Gold, Gretchen Jacobson, Anthony Damico, and Tricia Neuman, “Medicare Advantage 2013 Spotlight: Enrollment Market Update,” The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 6/2013)

The Continuing Cuts To Medicare Advantage Are Due To ObamaCare

The Federal Government Has Consistently Cut Medicare Advantage Payment Rates As A Result Of ObamaCare. “The U.S. government has been cutting payment rates for Medicare Advantage as part of an overall reduction in healthcare spending required under the law and as it seeks to bring the program fees closer to the ones it pays through the Medicare fee-for-service program.” (Caroline Humer, “U.S. Health Insurers Brace For New Steep Medicare Cuts,” Reuters, 2/20/14)

Democrats Financed ObamaCare In Part “By An Estimated $206 Billion” In Medicare Advantage Cuts. “Consumers who choose Advantage plans are opting for managed care with benefits including lower out-of-pocket costs over the traditional government-run Medicare program for the elderly and disabled. Government payments have been under pressure since 2010, when the U.S. health expansion was financed in part by reducing spending on Advantage plans by an estimated $206 billion over a decade.” (Alex Wayne and Caroline Chen, “Humana, UnitedHealth Face About 3.6% Advantage Rate Cuts,” Bloomberg, 2/21/14)

Medicare Advantage Rates Were Cut By Six Percent Last Year. “Another possibility for insurers is eliminating plans and withdrawing from certain markets. Many did that last year after the government cut rates by nearly 6 percent.” (Caroline Humer, “U.S. Health Insurers Brace For New Steep Medicare Cuts,” Reuters, 2/20/14)

Pryor Voted Specifically To Allow The Medicare Advantage Cuts

In 2009, As ObamaCare Was Being Debated In The Senate, Republicans Offered An Amendment To Protect Medicare Advantage From Cuts. “Senator Orrin G. Hatch, Republican of Utah, has proposed an amendment to block the cuts, which would reduce spending on Medicare Advantage plans by about $120 billion over 10 years.” (David M. Herszenhorn, “‘Medicare Advantage’ at Issue in Senate,” The New York Times, 12/4/09)

  • Sen. Orinn Hatch (R-UT) Proposed To Send The Bill Back To The Senate Finance Committee, With Instructions To Remove $120 Billion In Cuts To Medicare Advantage. HATCH: Mr. President, I send a motion to commit with instructions to the desk and ask for its immediate consideration.  PRESIDING OFFICER: “The clerk will report the motion.” The legislative clerk read as follows: “The Senator from Utah [Mr. Hatch] moves to commit H.R. 3590 to the Committee on Finance with instructions to report the same back to the Senate with changes that do not include cuts in payments to Medicare Advantage plans totaling -$120 billion.” (Senator Orrin Hatch, Congressional Record, 12/4/09, p. S12306)
  • Hatch Warned That “These Cuts Will Threaten Beneficiaries’ Access To Care As Medicare Providers Find It More And More Challenging To Provide Health Services To Medicare Patients.” “HATCH: “So there is $135 billion from hospitals, $120 billion from Medicare Advantage, about $15 billion from nursing homes, more than $40 billion from home health care agencies, and close to $8 billion from hospice providers.  These cuts will threaten beneficiaries’ access to care as Medicare providers find it more and more challenging to provide health services to Medicare patients. And what is their argument? They say it is the awful insurance companies causing these problems. No, it is the awful Federal Government causing these troubles.” (Senator Orrin Hatch, Congressional Record, 12/4/09, p. S12307)

The Amendment Was Voted Down By Senate Democrats, Including Mark Pryor. (H.R. 3590, Hatch Motion to Commit, Roll Call Vote #362, Rejected 57-41: R 39-0; D 57-2, 12/4/09, Pryor Voted Nay)

Senate Republicans Attempted To Remove The Medicare Cuts A Second Time In March Of 2010. “Before outlining a provision he has proposed to improve the health care reconciliation bill by protecting seniors’ Medicare benefits, U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) this morning outlined the economic costs of the recently-passed $2.5 trillion health care bill and ‘its impact on the future of our children and grandchildren.’  Specifically, Hatch’s provision, called a motion to commit, would stop the cuts to the Medicare Advantage program if the Actuary at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) certifies that 1 million Medicare Advantage beneficiaries lose their coverage or benefits.” (Press Release, “Hatch Offers Provision to Protect Seniors,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, 3/24/10)

Senate Democrats, Including Mark Pryor, Voted To Kill The Motion To Protect Medicare Advantage. (H.R. 4872, Baucus Motion To Table Hatch Motion, Roll Call Vote #72, Agreed To 56-42: R 0-40; D 56-2, 3/24/10, Pryor Voted Yea)