By Tom Curry National affairs writer
updated 9/17/2009 4:31:50 PM ET 2009-09-17T20:31:50

Claim: Medicare Advantage plans will be eliminated under Democrats’ health insurance reform plans.

  1. Don't miss these Health stories
    1. Splash News
      More women opting for preventive mastectomy - but should they be?

      Rates of women who are opting for preventive mastectomies, such as Angeline Jolie, have increased by an estimated 50 percent in recent years, experts say. But many doctors are puzzled because the operation doesn't carry a 100 percent guarantee, it's major surgery -- and women have other options, from a once-a-day pill to careful monitoring.

    2. Larry Page's damaged vocal cords: Treatment comes with trade-offs
    3. Report questioning salt guidelines riles heart experts
    4. CDC: 2012 was deadliest year for West Nile in US
    5. What stresses moms most? Themselves, survey says

Medicare Advantage plans offer added benefits, such as dental and vision care, which is why some seniors choose them instead of fee-for-service Medicare. About 23 percent of beneficiaries have Medicare Advantage coverage. The non-partisan Medicare Payment Advisory Commission says Medicare Advantage plans cost too much: Payments per enrollee are 14 percent higher than regular Medicare. Without cuts to Medicare Advantage, an insurance overhaul won't get the money needed to help pay for insuring the uninsured; but such cuts may limit some seniors' choices.

Fact or fiction?

Both the House Democrats’ reform plan and the Senate Finance Committee plan released this week by Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., would cut payments to Medicare Advantage plans — not eliminating them but curtailing some of the plans. The Baucus bill proposes to cut payments to Medicare Advantage plans by about $123 billion over 10 years. Criticizing the Baucus plan, Finance Committee member Sen. Bill Nelson, D- Fla., said it would be "intolerable" to ask seniors on Medicare Advantage to "have something taken away from them that they have come to expect." But Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif., said "overpayments" to Medicare Advantage plan "pad the pockets of insurance companies."

Send us a health care claim you'd like to investigate — and check back for your daily dose of reality. E-mail us at, submit your question on Newsvine or tweet @msnbc_health using the tag #doseofreality.

© 2013 Reprints


Discussion comments