WASHINGTON – As the health care debate continues to take center stage in Washington, several high profile Democrat Governors expressed concerns about the potential cost of the Democrats’ health care proposals to their states and abstained from signing a letter to congressional leaders this week as the U.S. Senate sorts through contentious issues like a public option, and new Medicaid costs for states.
U.S. Representative Paul Hodes’ (D-NH) home state Governor John Lynch (D-NH) was one of six Democrat Governors who vocalized his concerns and held out from signing a letter on health care reform. According to the Los Angeles Times, “In the case of New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch, he did not sign because the letter failed to ‘address concerns regarding potential cost shifting to the states,’ said Colin Manning, a spokesman for the governor.”
“Governor Lynch and his colleagues have expressed valid concerns about the potential cost burden of the Democrats’ health care proposals being passed down to their states, and voters in New Hampshire deserve to know whether Paul Hodes will stand up for their interests and vote against any bills that are paid for on the backs of the families, seniors, and small businesses in his state,” said National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) spokeswoman Amber Wilkerson Marchand.
Several news outlets noted the implications of the Democrat Governors’ concerns:
· Christian Science Monitor: “Indeed, the Democrats are having their own troubles keeping their team on the same page regarding President Obama’s effort at health reform.”
· Washington Post: “Many governors… are deeply concerned that Congress will add to the burden by opening Medicaid to millions of poor, uninsured adults.”
· Talking Points Memo: “It gives a sense of how tough the health care battle is that Democrats could only get 22 of the 28 governors from their own party to sign a letter to Congressional leaders urging they pass a bill this year.”
Thus far, Hodes has failed to explain where he stands on the Senate Democrats’ proposals to cut Medicare Advantage by more than $120 billion over 10 years, which could lead to a cut in benefits for more than 10 million seniors nationwide.
“Republicans agree that we need real health care reform, but as he seeks a promotion to the U.S. Senate, Paul Hodes needs to explain: how will he prevent seniors from seeing their Medicare benefits cut in New Hampshire?” Wilkerson Marchand concluded.
Governor John Lynch Did Not Sign A Letter Urging The Passage Of A Healthcare Bill Due To “Concerns Regarding Potential Cost Shifting To States.” “Last week, Democratic governors sent a letter to congressional leaders proclaiming that ‘the status quo is no longer an option’ and urging passage of a healthcare bill this year. Six Democratic governors did not sign the letter for various reasons. In the case of New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch, he did not sign because the letter failed to ‘address concerns regarding potential cost shifting to the states,’ said Colin Manning, a spokesman for the governor.” (Peter Nicholas, “Obama Finds Support Outside Party And Washington For Healthcare Plan,” Los Angeles Times, 10/7/09)
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Baucus Proposed More Than $100 Billion In Cuts To Medicare Advantage. “Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus is proposing to cut more than $100 billion over 10 years from Medicare Advantage plans. . . . Baucus and other Democrats argue that, on balance, all Medicare beneficiaries will be better off if the Democrats' bill passes because they'll get improved preventive care, have more of the cost of their prescription drugs covered by the taxpayers, and see other improvements.” (Tom Curry, “Medicare Advantage Tussle At Heart Of Overhaul,” MSNBC, msnbc.msn.com, Posted 9/24/09)
Democrats Are Looking To Cut Medicare Advantage By More Than $120 Billion Over 10 Years. “Democrats want to cut Medicare Advantage by more than $120 billion over 10 years. It could leave seniors with fewer boutique Medicare options offered through private insurance companies or with private plans that offer fewer of the extra benefits such plans provide.” (Lisa Wangsness, “Democrats Seek Cuts In Medicare Advantage,” The Boston Globe, 9/24/09)
More Than 10 Million Seniors Using Medicare Advantage Could See Benefits Shrink. “More than 10 million seniors enrolled in an enhanced, private version of Medicare known as Medicare Advantage - including 175,000 in Massachusetts - could see their plans shrink or be replaced with traditional coverage under the health care overhaul plans proposed by Democrats in Congress.” (Lisa Wangsness, “Democrats Seek Cuts In Medicare Advantage,” The Boston Globe, 9/24/09)
Medicare Advantage Customers Spend Fewer Days In The Hospital, Face Fewer Re-Admissions, And Had Fewer “Potentially Avoidable” Admissions. “The insurance industry just released a report that analyzes government data to show ‘seniors in Medicare Advantage spent fewer days in a hospital, were subject to fewer hospital re-admissions, and were less likely to have “potentially avoidable” admissions, for common conditions ranging from uncontrolled diabetes to dehydration,’ according to a release.” (Chris Frates, “Report: Medicare Advantage Benefits Seniors,” Politico, 9/15/09)