When I was an adolescent I spent a great deal of time with my mentors playing Ping-Pong. I never got good enough to play Table Tennis at the Olympic level but I was good enough that by the time I graduated from college I was able to claim the title, “King Ping.”
I abdicated my throne in 1986. Apparently, it was usurped by President Obama in 2009. Ever since Obama has been president he has been using Medicare as a Ping Pong ball.
The latest “serve” was from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. As a division of Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services, the CMS recommended a 2.2% cut in payment to private insurance companies for administrating Medicare for 2014.
This time, however, the Obama Administration ran up against somebody who was just as skilled.
In 2010 both houses of the 111th congress were controlled by the same political party that controlled the White House. The new president was able to force anything he wanted on the American people. The insurance lobby did not waste assets combating Obamacare. I could not understand their complacency back in 2009 and 2010, I now understand that any money the insurance industry spent defending Medicare Advantage at that time would have been wasted.
The Obama Administration was able to pass a law that completely changed the only option Medicare beneficiaries have for health insurance that is not administered by the federal government.
My, how things have changed. In 2013 the political climate in D.C. is a bit different. Now that the Republicans have control over one house of congress, Obama is no longer able to force his will on the American people in every case. He still has enormous influence over how things are done, however, he is now required to answer for his decisions. The Checks and Balances that our Founding Fathers envisioned are now working the way they were intended.
In February, CMS proposed the cuts to Medicare Advantage payments for 2014. Now that the insurance industry sees that they have a legitimate chance, they have spent the money required to build a successful lobby.
On April 1, 2013, the Obama Administration quietly reversed its position. Rather than cutting payments to the Medicare Advantage program, CMS has announced that payments for private insurance companies to administer health insurance benefits for Medicare beneficiaries who do not trust the federal government to operate an insurance program, will be increased by 3.3%
The insurance industry did not ask for more money from the national treasury. After they got the backing of 160 members of congress, they won. The insurance industry lobbied congress to prevent Obama from cutting the amount of money they get even more. They countered the serve from CMS with a hard smash.
If you are one of the millions of Americans who have elected Medicare Advantage as opposed to Original Medicare, this latest announcement is huge.
When you get your renewal information in September, your insurance company should still be able to offer you similar coverage to what you have now for 2014. If the cuts had been authorized, there is a good chance that premiums for Medicare Advantage would have increased, benefits cut or both.
Barack Obama is no longer, “King Ping” but he is still “Prince Pong.” He can no longer force changes to Medicare Advantage through congress, however, he still has vast power over Medicare.
Although he lost the game over Medicare Advantage he has not given up. He is still using Medicare as a political Ping-Pong ball. He has agreed to proposed changes to Medicare but only if he is given authorization from congress to increase taxes on certain Americans.