President Donald Trump is expected to issue an executive order Thursday making changes to the Medicare program to “protect” Americans from Democratic health-care proposals senior administration officials say would “destroy” coverage for seniors.
The executive order, which he is scheduled to discuss at a speech in Florida later Thursday, is intended to bolster Medicare Advantage, private Medicare insurance for seniors that currently covers 22 million people, senior administration officials said on a call with reporters. The plan would also offer more affordable plan options, increase use of telehealth services and bring payments in Medicare fee-for-service program in line with payments for Medicare Advantage, officials said.
The plan seeks to expand the range of services that can be offered on private plans and works to lower costs for seniors by pushing for procedures to be done in a hospital.
“Medicare for All” isn’t “just impractical but morally wrong,” Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma said on the call. “I’m deeply concerned about proposals that eviscerate Medicare by indiscriminately stripping private health insurance.”
“Medicare for all is Medicare for none,” she added.
More than 20 million Medicare beneficiaries were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans in 2018, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. That number is expected to grow to 42% of beneficiaries in a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Trump’s plan takes direct aim at 2020 Democratic candidates who advocate for changes to the U.S. health-care system through some version of Medicare for All.
Arguably the most drastic proposal is from Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who is calling for eliminating private health insurance and replacing it with a universal Medicare plan. Proponents say it would help reduce administrative inefficiencies and costs in the U.S. health-care system. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., has backed Sanders’ proposal.
Spokespersons for Sanders’ and Warren’s campaigns did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Trump has made lowering health-care prices one of the key issues of his administration as health care remains a top issue for voters in the 2020 elections.
The Trump administration has had a few roadblocks in its attempt to lower health-care costs. Earlier this year, the White House withdrew its plan to ban rebates drugmakers pay to pharmacy benefit managers. That news came three days after a federal judge in Washington, D.C., dealt a blow to the Trump administration by striking down a rule that would have forced pharmaceutical companies to disclose the list price of their drugs in television ads.
Notably, Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has suggested she is not in favor of Medicare for All proposals.
Pelosi’s thoughts on how to improve the nation’s health-care laws appear to align with those of former Vice President Joe Biden, who in his 2020 presidential bid is calling for building on provisions of Obamacare, formally known as the Affordable Care Act.