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700,000 Medicare Beneficiaries to be Displaced

1:45 PM, Nov 20, 2010 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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Today's Wall Street Journal reports:

Seniors enrolling in private Medicare policies starting this week are finding fewer options, as health insurers close down certain types of plans due to legislative changes and looming cuts to federal funding.

Cigna Corp., Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, several Blue Cross Blue Shield plans and others aren't renewing hundreds of Medicare Advantage plans, which are Medicare policies administered by private insurers. The moves will displace some 700,000 beneficiaries who must find new policies, according to Humana Inc., a large seller of Advantage plans.

The Congressional Budget Office projects that Medicare Advantage funding would be cut by more than a quarter of a trillion dollars ($254 billion) in Obamacare's real first decade (2014 to 2023), which amounts to cuts of about $25,000 for each of the roughly 10 million Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. Those cuts wouldn't be made if Obamacare is repealed in January of 2013, but $8 billion will be cut by the end of 2012.  These Medicare cuts -- both the $8 billion and the $254 billion -- wouldn't be used to make Medicare more solvent over the long haul, but would instead be spent on Obamacare. 

The Journal contacted the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), headed by Donald Berwick, the outspoken advocate of the British National Health Service's rationing board (the National Institute for Clinical Health and Excellence -- or NICE) -- who President Obama circumvented the Senate confirmation process to install in that post. In an article noting that 700,000 seniors who like their Medicare Advantage plans won't get to keep their Medicare Advantage plans, the Journal quotes Berwick as saying, "The Medicare Advantage program is stronger than ever before."

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