In 2014, Republicans have the ‘Mediscare’ advantage

The Hill reports that “Senate Democrats are mounting a surprisingly strong defense of Medicare Advantage, a private insurance option that their party used to deride as a wasteful giveaway to insurance companies.”

“Nineteen Senate Democrats this week signed a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) warning of dire consequences for seniors if cuts to Medicare Advantage (MA) go through as expected later this month,” the report says. (Read the letter here.)

Not surprisingly, the list includes vulnerable Democrats like Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mary Landrieu of Louisiana. If you’re keeping score, this is a bad sign.

In the past, Pryor and Landrieu have repeatedly voted to cut Medicare Advantage.

In 2009, for example, Pryor and Landrieu were among the 57 Democrats who voted against “a Republican effort to restore $120 billion in cuts to Medicare Advantage, the private insurance plan within Medicare that provides seniors with better benefits than the traditional program.” And inĀ 2010, Pryor and Landrieu were among the 56 Democrats who voted to table Sen. Orrin Hatch’s amendment to block the cuts.

This was not an accident or an oversight. Nor was it merely supported because it was part of the larger ObamaCare package. Landrieu even issued a 2009 press release, specifically boasting that Obama’s health care legislation “makes changes to the Medicare Advantage payment structure that will give insurers an incentive to deliver more value for taxpayers’ money.”

Now, Landrieu and Pryor have changed their minds?

This is pretty good evidence that vulnerable Democrats are hearing footsteps. Additionally, it’s an example of how ObamaCare is posing problems for Democrats with a coalition of Americans who tend to vote in large numbers: Seniors.

No matter what you think about the merits of the program, the odds are pretty good that it will be Republicans who get to play the traditionally Democratic game of “Mediscare” in 2014.

The last time this happened (2010, as I recall), it didn’t work out well for them…