Yesterday at his AARP townhall, President Barack Obama claimed: “Nobody is talking about cutting Medicare benefits.” The July 28th Barack Obama needs to talk to the January 11th Barack Obama, who told ABC News:

We’ve got to eliminate programs that don’t work, and I’ll give you an example in the health care area. We are spending a lot of money subsidizing the insurance companies around something called Medicare Advantage, a program that gives them subsidies to accept Medicare recipients but doesn’t necessarily make people on Medicare healthier. And if we eliminate that and other programs, we can potentially save $200 billion out of the health care system.

Over one in five Medicare patients are enrolled in the Medicare Advantage plans that President Obama wants to completely cut. The benefits that over 10.5 million seniors would probably lose as a result of President Obama’s $200 billion in Medicare Advantage cuts include:

  • prescription drug coverage
  • preventive-care services
  • coor­dinated care for chronic conditions
  • routine physical examinations
  • additional hospitalization
  • skilled nursing facility stays
  • routine eye and hearing examinations
  • glasses and hearing aids

Congress has been down this road before. After con­gressional cuts in Medicare Plus Choice in 1997, millions of seniors lost access to private health coverage. Heritage fellow Bob Moffit explains:

Traditional Medicare routinely covers only 54 percent of the total spending for beneficia­ries’ health care.[10] Without access to Medicare Advantage plans, seniors would have two choices: either settle for the inferior level of coverage of tra­ditional Medicare and go without the additional benefits or buy additional coverage through Medi­gap or some other supplemental coverage option. Meanwhile, the rollback of Medicare Advantage plans would impose a disproportionate burden on the low-income and minority seniors who enroll in them, as well as reduce seniors’ access to Medicare Advantage plans in rural areas.