White House defends high bills for Africa trip
The White House Friday defended the first family’s upcoming weeklong trip to Africa, which could cost taxpayers up to $100 million, as “great bang for our buck.”
“There will be a great bang for our buck for being in Africa because when you travel to regions like Africa that don’t get a lot of presidential attention, you tend to have very longstanding and long-running impact from the visit,” said Ben Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser to President Obama.
SEE RELATED: Report: Obama spent more hours golfing, vacationing than in economic meetings
The Obamas’ trip, at a time of “sequestration” budget cuts, will take them to Senegal, Tanzania and South Africa from June 26 to July 3. Citing a confidential planning document, the Washington Post reported that the trip will cost between $60 million to $100 million.
The excursion will involve military cargo planes airlifting 56 support vehicles, including 14 limousines, and three trucks to carry bulletproof glass panels to cover the windows where the first family is set to stay. A Navy aircraft carrier or amphibious ship with a fully staffed medical trauma center will be stationed offshore in case of an emergency.
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Obamacare To Slash Hundreds Of Billions From Medicare
Obamacare To Slash Hundreds Of Billions From Medicare Advantage Over Next 10 Years
Earlier this month, officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced that they’d increase payments in the market-based Medicare Advantage program by 3.3 percent next year.
The decision is remarkable, as CMS hinted just two months ago that it would reduce payments by 2.2 percent in 2014.
The CMS flip-flop is good news for seniors and taxpayers alike. But Medicare Advantage is not out of the woods yet. Obamacare is set to slash hundreds of billions from the program over the next 10 years.
That’s a mistake. Medicare Advantage delivers better care at lower cost than does conventional Medicare. The program should be expanded — not cut, as the president and his allies advocate.
Some 14 million seniors — more than a quarter of all beneficiaries — have enrolled in Medicare Advantage.
Under the terms of the program, beneficiaries choose from among several privately administered plans. Insurers compete for seniors’ business by offering plans with a variety of coverage levels and out-of-pocket costs. That competition drives down costs — and grants seniors access to services and benefits that they often cannot get through traditional Medicare.
The cuts CMS contemplated would have had a disastrous impact on seniors’ care. If the cuts had gone through, MA plans would have faced revenue reductions of 6.9 to 7.8 percent in 2014, according to a report from Oliver Wyman, a consultancy.