I write to address AARP state director Doug Shadel’s commentary: “Don’t believe reform myths” published Wednesday, Oct. 7. Mr. Shadel asserts that “misinformation and scare tactics” are being used to “derail health care reform” and those who don’t support current proposals in Congress care about “preserving the status quo.”
While I could take issue with each of Mr. Shadel’s myth-versus-fact scenarios, I am specifically troubled by his statement that none of the pending proposals cut Medicare benefits or increase out-of-pocket costs for Medicare services. In fact, both the House and Senate proposals cut $500 billion from a program that will be bankrupt in 2017 without significant changes.
Cuts in the Senate bill include $133 billion from Medicare Advantage and $19.8 billion from the Medicare drug benefit. In fact, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) confirmed the bill’s $130 billion cuts to Medicare’s managed-care plans would reduce benefits.
Mr. Shadel also states that the President has committed to legislation that won’t saddle future generations with debt, but the House has not yet seen such a proposal.
In fact, the current House bill adds $249 billion to the deficit and would cut $156 billion from Medicare Advantage. Additionally, CBO estimates it would spend nearly $1.3 trillion on new entitlements for health coverage expansions — including $438 billion for Medicaid expansions and $773 billion for “low-income” subsidies.
Finally, Mr. Shadel states that any proposed legislation must provide peace of mind for AARP members, yet troubling questions remain regarding AARP’s repeated advocacy for this bill that slashes Medicare — in which 14,000 seniors from my district alone participate — and promoting the sale of AARP-sponsored Medigap plans. I’m currently exploring this apparent conflict of interest and will continue to raise these questions as part of representing the people of Washington’s 8th district.
Congressman Dave Reichert