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John Barrow urges House leadership to preserve funding for Medicare Advantage

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U.S. Rep. John Barrow (D-Ga), joined by his Republican colleague Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, wrote and sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Cal.) on Thursday, urging the leadership to preserve funding for Medicare Advantage in the upcoming budget talks.

"As budget negotiations continue, we urge you to keep in mind the fourteen million Medicare beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage (MA) plans and oppose further cuts to the program," said the congressmen in the letter. "Medicare Advantage serves our constituents well, particularly those with high rates of chronic disease. MA plans are proven to contain costs and improve enrollee health outcomes by focusing on prevention and disease management, which reduces the need for unnecessary hospitalizations."

The letter, signed by 83 House members including Georgia's Phil Gingrey (R-Ga-11), lists all the cuts MA is facing in 2014 due to cuts included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Medicare Advantage ($200 billion over ten years) and the American Taxpayer Relief Act ($2.5 billion), the 2 percent cut in sequestration, the 2.4 percent cut in ACA health insurance tax, and cuts due to the MA risk adjustment changes in CMS' 2014 final rate notice.

The congressmen point out that the cuts are already resulting in limited care for the seniors and individuals with disabilities covered by the MA program.

"Georgia is home to hundreds of thousands of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries who are worried about the stability of the program,” said Congressman Barrow. “Further cuts to Medicare Advantage would dramatically alter the standard of care that folks have come to rely on. There’s broad, bipartisan support to preserve this program, and it must remain a priority of this Congress avoid any additional cuts in future budget negotiations.”

Barrow represents Georgia's 12th congressional district.

Click here to read the full letter.

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