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Obama Proposes Taking Away Current Health Care Plans from 9 Million Americans

11:23 AM, Jan 13, 2009 • By BRIAN FAUGHNAN
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Cato's Michael F. Cannon writes:

On This Week with George Stephanopolous, president-elect Barack Obama proposed eliminating the ENTIRE Medicare Advantage program...

Medicare Advantage allows seniors to choose a private health plan rather than get their health coverage from the traditional Medicare program. The Left has complained Medicare Advantage costs taxpayers more than if those seniors remained in the traditional Medicare program... The Left has long dreamt of eliminating Medicare Advantage, in part because it poses a threat to their plans for a completely government-run, single-payer health care system...

For Obama to suggest eliminating Medicare Advantage outright, however, is extraordinary. First, Obama made a campaign promise that he will let Americans keep their current health insurance. Eliminating Medicare Advantage would force 9 million seniors out of their current health plans and back into traditional Medicare. Second, a man who wants to reform America's health care sector ought not begin the effort by proposing to take something away from seniors, America's largest and most politically active voting block. Maybe the Obama folks haven't learned the lessons of the Clinton health care battle.

Cannon points out that the reason Medicare Advantage costs the federal government as much as it does is that the existing reimbursement structure actually encourages private insurers to cherry pick the healthiest seniors, instead of offering an equal incentive for all current Medicare recipients. Reforming the system of reimbursements could dramatically reduce the cost to Uncle Sam, while expanding choices to all seniors. Why is Obama so eager to force seniors who like their health care back into the one-size-fits-all system of traditional Medicare?