Medicare Advantage is becoming entrenched and harder to cut as support for the insurance program grows in both parties and enrollment numbers climb.
The Obama administration has repeatedly proposed cuts to the program, but has twice backed away under pressure from the health insurance industry and lawmakers from both parties.
Opposition appears to be growing. Only 22 senators signed letters opposing the administration’s plan to cut payments under the program in 2013. The number grew to 40 last year, and 53 in 2015.
Medicare Advantage was backed by President George W. Bush and approved by a Republican Congress in 2003 to introduce more competition to the insurance market for seniors.
Under the program, the government contracts with private insurance companies to provide coverage for seniors. Instead of the government directly paying doctors under Medicare, seniors who choose Medicare Advantage select a private insurer which then pays for services.