When federal legislation threatened to severely reduce health care benefits for seniors covered under Providence Health Plan, the CFM Federal Lobbying team crafted a comprehensive strategy to avoid the cuts and loss of member benefits. The goal was to preserve Medicare Advantage, which provides coverage to the majority of Oregon seniors. CFM’s plan enabled Congress to preserve benefits to Northwest seniors as well as extend children’s health care coverage to 15 million more kids.
A cut of $150 billion to Medicare Advantage was proposed to pay for an expansion of children’s health insurance. Because Medicare Advantage traditionally is considered a Republican program, most Democrats were eager to dismantle it. That political dynamic – along with the unpopularity of for-profit insurance companies and the laudatory mission of providing coverage for children – created significant momentum for these cuts.
CFM mobilized Medicare beneficiaries, as well as state and local leaders, in a coordinated effort to communicate how the proposed cuts would disproportionately harm Oregonians. CFM also worked with the Governor’s office to demonstrate that preserving benefits for seniors was truly a non-partisan issue. Working closely with our delegation, CFM helped devise an alternative pay-for, in the form of an increased tax on tobacco products, to expand children’s health insurance.
As a result, CFM helped create a coalition of Democratic Members of Congress to go against their party leaders and support the Medicare Advantage program. Congress ultimately passed a significant tobacco increase to pay for children’s health insurance expansion. Funding for Medicare Advantage and benefits to Oregon seniors were preserved.