Super PAC Ad Tries To Hide Sen. Burr Medicare Plan That Benefits His Campaign Donors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, August 16th, 2016
CONTACT: Matt Kravitz, 919.438.1836
or mkravitz@ncdp.org

Super PAC Ad Tries To Hide Sen. Burr Medicare Plan That Benefits His Campaign Donors

Special Interest Group Had To Go All The Way To Ohio For Doctor To Defend Burr Record on Medicare

RALEIGH, N.C. – A dark money, special interest super PAC has launched a $1.5 million ad-buy to try to rescue vulnerable incumbent Senator Richard Burr, who has been criticized for authoring a Medicare privatization plan that would hurt seniors and help his insurance company donors profit. But Burr’s special interest friends couldn’t even find a North Carolina doctor to defend his record. They had to go all the way to Dayton, Ohio to find a doctor who appeared in an ad backing Senator Rob Portman.

Last week, a NBC/Wall Street Journal/Marist Institute poll found Deborah 2 points ahead in North Carolina’s US Senate race and PPP found Burr’s approval rating is at 28 percent and disapproval rating is at 39 percent. Deborah has out-raised Burr in both the first and second quarter of 2016.

“Senator Burr’s record on Medicare is so bad for North Carolina that his special interest friends had to go all the way to Dayton, Ohio to find someone to defend it,” said Matt Kravitz, Press Secretary for the North Carolina Democratic Party. “Senator Burr wants voters to forget he wrote a Medicare privatization plan that would force seniors to pay more and pad the profits of the insurance industry, which has donated more than $1 million to his campaigns.”

 

BACKGROUND:

BURR HAS TAKEN OVER $1 MILLION FROM INSURANCE COMPANIES

Burr Has Received $1.1 Million From Insurance Interests. Over the course of his political career, Burr has received a total of $1,129,864 from insurance industry interests. [opensecrets.org, accessed June 1, 2016]

BURR INTRODUCED A PLAN TO VOUCHERIZE MEDICARE AND RAISE THE PROGRAM’S ELIGIBILITY AGE…

2012: Associated Press: Burr Unveiled His Own Medicare Voucher Plan, Which Would “Transition To A System Dominated By Private Insurance Plans” Faster Than The Ryan Plan. “Two Republican senators unveiled a Medicare overhaul Thursday that features an accelerated transition to private health insurance for many seniors, a gradual increase in the eligibility age, and higher premiums for middle-class and upper-income retirees. […] Like Ryan, Coburn and Burr would gradually raise the eligibility age to 67. But their plan also differs in several important ways. It would start the transition to a system dominated by private insurance plans in 2016 instead of waiting a decade, as Ryan has proposed. Private plans would compete with a government-sponsored program, a retooled version of today’s Medicare. Seniors would get a fixed amount from the government which they could apply toward a private plan or the government plan modeled on Medicare. Benefits would not be spelled out, but all plans would have to meet a test of basic insurance value.” [Associated Press, 2/16/12]

Burr-Coburn Increases Premiums By 9 Percent Prior To Implementation Of Premium Support; Beneficiaries Pay The Difference Between Their Defined Contribution And Their Plan. “Part B premiums would be increased by 3 percent of Part A and B program costs each year, beginning in 2013, to achieve a 9 percent increase prior to implementation of premium support in 2016. Beneficiaries would pay the difference between the defined federal contribution and the bid for the plan in which they chose to enroll. Unclear how the Part B and Part D formulas would be calculated or applied beginning in 2016.” [Comparison Of Medicare Premium Support Proposals, Kaiser Family Foundation, 7/26/12]

Annuity News: Burr’s Proposal For Medicare Included An “Increased Shift Toward More Privatization Of The Medicare Industry.” “Under the legislative proposal put forward by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., seniors would be limited in how they use private supplemental Medicare insurance and maximum out-of-pocket medical expenses under Medicare Parts A and B would also be limited. The proposal would also increase out-of-pocket requirements for wealthy seniors. But perhaps the biggest change is a provision that would give seniors the right to choose the Medicare plan that best meets their needs. That means that in 2016, there would be an increased shift toward more privatization of the Medicare industry. Traditional Medicare fee-for-service plans and private plans would ‘be forced to compete head-to-head,’ Coburn said in a statement.” [Annuity News, 2/21/12]

…WHICH WAS DERIDED AS THE RYAN MEDICARE PRIVATIZATION PLAN “ON STEROIDS”

National Committee To Preserve Social Security And Medicare Called The Burr-Coburn Plan “Nothing More Than The GOP/Ryan Plan On Steroids.” “The Coburn/Burr legislation proposed today would: provide seniors a voucher for their health care that could shift a growing share of Medicare costs to beneficiaries without reducing overall costs in the program, undermine traditional Medicare, leave millions of seniors without health coverage in retirement, and raise premiums for middle-class retirees. The Coburn/Burr proposal forces these changes even earlier than the Ryan plan. ‘This latest Medicare privatization scheme is nothing more than the GOP/Ryan plan on steroids. Not only does it promise savings that most private insurers have never achieved in providing coverage to seniors, it also delays healthcare coverage to age 67, and raises premiums for millions of American retirees. Budget hawks keep promising that private market competition will drive down costs yet history proves just the opposite. Private insurers offering Medicare Advantage plans have raked in billions of dollars in overpayments in the past decade and seniors, whether they participated in MA or not, paid for those subsidies with higher premiums.” [National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, 2/16/12]

National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare: Burr’s Plan “Doubled Down On Congressman Ryan’s Voucher Plan Offering What Appears To Be The Same Failed Privatization Approach To Medicare Reform.” “Senators Tom Coburn (R-OK) and Richard Burr (R-NC) have doubled down on Congressman Ryan’s voucher plan offering what appears to be the same failed privatization approach to Medicare reform that has been rejected by the majority of Americans. The Coburn/Burr legislation proposed today would: provide seniors a voucher for their health care that could shift a growing share of Medicare costs to beneficiaries without reducing overall costs in the program, undermine traditional Medicare, leave millions of seniors without health coverage in retirement, and raise premiums for middle-class retirees. The Coburn/Burr proposal forces these changes even earlier than the Ryan plan.” [National Committee to Preserve Social Security & Medicare, 2/16/12]

MEDICARE PRIVATIZATION WAS EXPECTED TO BE A WINDFALL FOR THE INSURANCE INDUSTRY

Former Insurance CEO: Ryan’s Medicare Plan Would Be a Windfall for Insurance Companies. In April 2011, the Huffington Post published an op-ed by Wendell Potter, a former insurance company executive at CIGNA. The headline stated “Ryan’s Medicare Plan Would Be a Windfall for Insurance Companies.” The piece went on to say “Rep. Paul Ryan’s [Republican budget] plan to privatize Medicare would accelerate a trend started several years ago by corporate CEOs and their political allies to shift ever-increasing amounts of risk from Big Business and the government to workers and retirees. If enacted, the Ryan plan would represent a windfall of unprecedented proportions for insurance corporations and other businesses.” [Huffington Post, Wendell Potter op-ed, 4/21/2011]

Analysis: Under Ryan Budget Medicare Plan, “Newly Available Private Insurer Revenues Would Generate Private Profits Of $1.3-$2.1 Billion In 2023.” David Cutler, a Harvard economist, wrote, “According to the CBO, people aged 65 in 2023 (the first year of the voucher) are expected to account for 4 percent of the $1.23 trillion in Medicare spending anticipated in that year. Not all of this revenue would be newly available to private plans; some of these expenditures currently flow through private Part D plans, some of the voucher recipients would have voluntarily chosen to enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan anyway, and some would not do so in any case. After making adjustments for the Part D spending and those who would have been in MA already, an estimated $31 billion in Medicare funds would be newly available to private plans in 2023. The GAO has estimated that insurers earn profits of between 4.1% and 6.6% on revenue. Thus, the newly available private insurer revenues would generate private profits of $1.3-$2.1 billion in 2023. These profits would quickly mount. By 2030, new profits for private insurers would be as high as $16 to $26 billion.” [David Cutler, New Republic, 9/8/12]

Citigroup Research: Insurance Stocks Would Immediately Increase in Value Under Ryan’s Plan To Privatize Medicare. In an analysis for Citigroup, Carl McDonald wrote, “We’ve argued that in the scenario where Mitt Romney wins the presidential election and Republicans take the Senate, the managed care group rises 10-20%, as the market factors in the likelihood that health reform implementation is delayed, scaled back, or that pieces are removed entirely, pushing up earnings forecasts in 2014 and beyond. We think the argument for how much the stocks could move is strengthened by the selection of Paul Ryan as the Republican vice president candidate, given Ryan’s widely publicized proposal to essentially privatize the federal Medicare program. Ryan has talked about changing the reimbursement methodology for Medicare Advantage plans, which creates some uncertainty, but that negative would be more than offset by a major increase in Medicare revenue if the bulk of the seniors in the country were ultimately moved into a private plan.”  [Citigroup Analyst Carl McDonald, Citi Research, 8/18/12]

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