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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bill Nelson's Medicare Advantage gambit




When thousands of angry phone calls and letters came, U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson said he listened. And this week he has thrust himself into the health care debate with a controversial plan to protect seniors covered by Medicare Advantage, a plan some fellow Florida Democrats oppose.

Nelson, who was defeated Thursday in a separate bid to extract tens of billions in additional savings from drugmakers, says he cannot bear to see roughly 800,000 Floridians lose some of the "goodies" they receive from private-run Advantage plans, such as eye care and gym memberships.

"I don't think it's a good thing to go in and tell senior citizens, 'What you have now, you have to give up.' That is a nonstarter," Nelson said Thursday during a Senate Finance Committee meeting.

His amendment to grandfather in existing beneficiaries was postponed after a brief but spirited discussion and could come up for a vote today. It's a white knight appeal to a group of reliable voters, many of whom were urged to contact Nelson by a large Medicare Advantage provider, Humana. (story here)

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 2:19pm]


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