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Trump puts Biden on defense for Medicare Advantage cuts

Medicare benefits have emerged as an election hot topic, putting President Biden in a likely precarious situation with senior voters after slashing the popular Medicare Advantage program’s benefits ahead of the election. 

‘I will not cut one penny from Social Security or Medicare, which Joe Biden is destroying by letting millions of people come into our country. He’s destroying Medicare and Social Security,’ Trump said during his rally on Temple University’s campus in Philadelphia last weekend, setting the stage for ongoing attacks against his 2024 competitor. 

‘Joe Biden has cut Medicare Advantage for the last two years. Did you know that? He’s cut your Medicare Advantage, which is a total betrayal of seniors. And just check, you’ll see it. He has cut you down for two years straight.’

Medicare was cited again during the first presidential debate of the election cycle on Thursday, where Biden’s disastrous performance included him saying, ‘We finally beat Medicare’ as he stumbled over his words. 

‘He’s right, he did beat Medicare, beat it to death,’ Trump fired back. ‘And he’s destroying Medicare because of all these people are coming in, they’re putting them on Medicare, they’re putting them on Social Security.’

Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, specifically, are private health insurance plans that contract with Medicare, and are used by more than 33 million Americans. The program mostly enrolls adults over the age of 65, but also offers benefits to people of all ages with disabilities. Traditional Medicare, conversely, is a federal health insurance program for adults over the age of 65, as well as younger individuals with disabilities. 

The Biden administration in April finalized plans to cut MA benefits, which experts said could lead to an additional $33 a month for out-of-pocket costs, or $396 a year, for enrollees. Critics of the cuts said they would be especially devastating to seniors living on fixed incomes who are already coping with ongoing inflation issues. 

Fox News Digital spoke to a former nurse, Republican New York congresswoman, and Consumer Product Safety Commission Chairwoman Ann Marie Buerkle, who said the cuts could prove devastating for the Biden administration, as the 46th president hits this election cycle’s fever pitch. 

‘By letting far-left socialists control his policy agenda, Biden made a huge blunder that will jeopardize his support from the 33 million Americans enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans who will see their premiums go up, co-pays increase, and benefits decline before November,’ said Buerkle.

The cuts come as the left-wing faction of Congress continues promoting ‘Medicare-for-all’ legislation, which would establish a universal single-payer national health insurance system. Buerkle said the Biden administration’s cuts this year ‘actively sabotage MA,’ likely in a backdoor attempt to promote a government-focused system, such as ‘Medicare-for-all.’ 

‘Far left ideologues like Elizabeth Warren hate Medicare Advantage’s success as a public-private partnership because it undermines their argument for government-run health care, aka ‘Medicare-for-all.’ Biden has let these far left ideologues in his administration actively sabotage MA so they can prop up a government-run model and achieve their socialist agenda,’ she said. 

The sentiment was echoed in an op-ed published by Fox News Digital in May, by Heritage Action executive vice president Ryan Walker.  

‘Biden and his allies want to cut MA in favor of more government-run, fee-for-service  ‘Medicare-for-all’ – which would mean fewer options for physicians and coverage, like vision and hearing. Recently, progressive ringleader Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., and a coalition of 59 far-left House Democrats sent a letter to Biden arguing for ‘strengthening Traditional Medicare’ and redirecting funds ‘incorrectly going to MA,” Walker wrote. 

The Biden administration pushed back that ‘any claim that this Administration is cutting Medicare is categorically false’ and ‘disinformation,’ adding that ‘protecting Medicare is a key priority for President Biden and one of our highest priorities at HHS.’

‘This is cherry picking numbers. Under the rate announcement, payments to Medicare Advantage plans are expected to increase by 3.7% next year, equivalent to over $16 billion. A $16 billion increase is not a cut,’ the White House told Fox News Digital. 

‘Leave it to deep-pocketed insurance companies and industry front groups to characterize this year’s increase in Medicare Advantage payments as a cut. Disinformation being pushed out by high-paid industry hacks and their allies hurt Medicare beneficiaries and the Medicare Trust Fund.’

The administration added that it proposed a 1% increase in payments to insurance companies that provide Medicare Advantage order to ‘ensure they are accurately and appropriately compensated for covering the services their enrollees receive.’ 

‘Like the 1% percent increase in payments that we are proposing for 2024, recovering overpayments from insurance companies is not a cut in payments – any such claim is categorically false.’

Buerkle previously wrote in an op-ed this year that Medicare benefits could be a ‘winning issue for Republicans,’ citing that the states that voted for Trump in 2016, but switched to Biden in 2020 – Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin – are home to a majority of seniors who get their health care through MA. 

‘51% of Medicare-eligible Americans choose MA, and that number grows each year. Nearly all of them self-report satisfaction with the program. So, for 51% of seniors, Medicare Advantage is Medicare, so cuts to the program equate to cuts to Medicare. Trump understands that increasing health care costs for society’s most vulnerable population before an election is a stupendously dumb idea. Other Republicans should follow his lead,’ Buerkle told Fox News Digital. 

The MA plans are overwhelmingly supported by those enrolled, with a 2021 analysis finding 90% of enrollees reporting they are satisfied with the plan. Biden had also vowed during his State of the Union address in March that he would protect Social Security and Medicare from any cuts. 

‘Tonight, let’s all agree once again to stand up for seniors. Many of my friends on the other side of the aisle want to put Social Security on the chopping block. If anyone here tries to cut Social Security or Medicare or raise the retirement age, I will stop you,’ Biden said during the State of the Union. 

Not only will these cuts increase out-of-pocket costs for seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans by an average of $396 next year, cutting Medicare Advantage hurts Medicare solvency, too, since it’s less costly to the federal government compared to original Medicare and studies have shown that Medicare Advantage could help extend Medicare solvency by 17 years. MA delivers the same benefits as original Medicare for just 83 cents on the dollar,’ Buerkle added. 

The cuts have faced no shortage of condemnation from Republicans and conservatives, who sounded off in April that seniors on fixed incomes would suffer further financial strains. 

‘America’s seniors are among the most vulnerable people in our society. Most live on a fixed income – Biden’s inflation has been a baked-in tax to everything they purchase. Now, he’s raising the price of the advantage plan – a plan that millions of seniors rely on,’ Texas Sen. Ted Cruz posted on X. ‘This is unacceptable.’

‘President Trump delivered on his promise to protect Social Security and Medicare in his first term, and President Trump will continue to strongly protect Social Security and Medicare in his second term,’ Trump campaign national press secretary Karoline Leavitt told Fox News Digital. 

‘The only candidate who poses a threat to Social Security and Medicare is Joe Biden–whose mass invasion of countless millions of illegal aliens will, if they are allowed to stay, cause Social Security and Medicare to buckle and collapse. By unleashing American energy, slashing job-killing regulations, and adopting pro-growth America First tax and trade policies, President Trump will quickly rebuild the greatest economy in history and put Social Security and Medicare on a stronger footing for generations to come.’

Axios reported earlier this year that Biden administration officials believed benefits for enrollees would remain stable through next year. Researchers, however, said the Biden campaign was taking a gamble with the cuts ahead of the election. 

‘President Biden’s team is gambling that MA beneficiaries won’t realize before the election the benefits Biden’s team is causing them to lose come January 2025,’ Raymond James analyst Chris Meekins told the outlet. 

This post appeared first on FOX NEWS

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