Fact-Checking: Medicare Advantage Statements
RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:
DAVID WELNA: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: So Senate Democrats want to cut nearly $120 billion over the next decade to Medicare Advantage. And that's the program where seniors get health coverage from private insurers rather than from traditional government-run Medicare. Now, Republicans have tried twice to reinstate that money, so far unsuccessfully. They say Democrats are making those cuts at the expense of the elderly. Let's listen to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.
MITCH MCCONNELL: They expressly voted to violate the president's pledge, that seniors that like the plans they have can keep them. The president said seniors who like the plans they have can keep them, because you can't cut $120 billion from a benefits program, obviously, without cutting benefits.
MONTAGNE: Well, is that so?
WELNA: Now, even though Medicare Advantage was supposed to save money through managed care, it's now heavily subsidized to insure that it's widely available. Only about 20 percent of seniors actually use Medicare Advantage, so the 80 percent of seniors not enrolled in the program actually subsidize those who are.
MONTAGNE: And then what about Senator McConnell's assertion that benefits will be cut?
WELNA: So I don't think it's necessarily so that those covered by Medicare Advantage could not keep their plans. And they might get through extra benefits, or they just might keep them, depending on how much those private insurers want to compete for their business. But just in case they do cut those benefits, some Democratic senators from at least three states have already moved to shield their local Medicare Advantage programs from those cuts, as well.
MONTAGNE: NPR congressional correspondent, David Welna. Thanks very much.
WELNA: You're welcome, Renee.
MONTAGNE: And NPR is fact-checking the statements from both sides of the aisle. You can find out more at npr.org.
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