President Obama is about to get another stinging rebuke, as the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO) is calling for the end of an $8 billion Medicare quality bonus program that congressional Republicans have criticized as a political ploy. The GAO report, which is slated for release Monday, states the $8.3 billion the administration has earmarked for quality bonuses to Medicare Advantage insurance plans, would essentially delay the pain of cuts to the plans under the new health care law. The Obama administration is defending the program saying that without the bonuses many plans wouldn’t have an incentive to improve quality.
Medicare Advantage is a popular private insurance alternative to the traditional health care program for seniors. More than 3,000 private plans serve nearly 12 million beneficiaries, about one-fourth of Medicare recipients. They offer lower out-of-pocket costs, usually in exchange for some limitations on choice.
President Barack Obama’s health care law trimmed Medicare Advantage to compensate for prior years of overpayments that had allowed the plans to offer attractive benefits — and pocket healthy profits. Source