The American Action Network — a conservative group backed by Republicans with close ties to Wall Street — “is launching a large-scale mail and newspaper ad campaign” to shore up Republicans by attacking Democrats for allegedly balancing the budget “on the backs of seniors” and introducing “radical” “Medicaid-style rebates to the Medicare Part D program.”
“The mail campaign will reach 22 congressional districts in 14 states, all of them represented in Congress by Republicans,” Politico reports. Below is a sample:
The Medicaid Part D changes are a reference to Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-CA) proposal (and Sen. Jay Rockefeller’s (D-WV) companion Senate bill) to extend Medicaid drug rebates to dual eligibles — beneficiaries who qualify for both Medicare and Medicaid — and is only as “radical” as, well, health policy in 2003.
Waxman introduced the legislation after the 2003 Medicare part D law moved the 6 million dual eligibles into the Medicare part D program, thus creating a windfall for the industry. Whereas Medicaid obtained an average discount of about 34 percent from pharmaceutical companies that participated in the Medicaid program, “the average discount obtained by the Part D plans was 14 percent,” according to a report issued by Waxman. As he put it, “The drug companies are making the same drugs. They are being used by the same beneficiaries. Yet because the drugs are being bought through Medicare Part D instead of Medicaid, the prices paid by the taxpayers have ballooned by billions of dollars.” CBO estimates that if drug manufacturers provided the Medicare Part D program with the same prices that Medicaid receives, the government could save $112 billion over 10 years.
And if anyone is looking to balance the budget on the back of seniors, it’s not the Democrats — whose current proposal (Sen. Harry Reid’s plan) excludes any cuts from entitlement programs. It’s the Republicans who will benefit from AAN’s flyers.
The GOP voted against the Affordable Care Act — which extends the life of Medicare by 9 years and provides rebates to seniors who fall into Medicare Part D’s doughnut hole — and they supported Paul Ryan’s budget. That plan eliminates the supplemental Medicaid coverage that dual eligibles enjoy and replaces it “with a medical savings account” that, based on CBO estimates, would result in a 65-year-old who lives at the poverty line to pay “$4,700 more in 2022 than he or she would under the programs as they exist today.”
If the 22 Republican members vote in favor of Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) debt ceiling proposal later today, seniors will fare even worse. They’ll face cuts of billions of dollars from a commission that would tasked with finding $1.5 trillion in savings by “cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits heavily for current retirees. ”