HELENA, Mont. (AP) - The Obama administration says a Montana Republican's amendment to deny funding for the new federal health care law would prevent Medicare from paying the bills for millions of seniors.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says the defunding plan drafted by Rep. Denny Rehberg would not allow Medicare to pay private insurance plans that cover a quarter of all Medicare enrollees.
Rehberg's office says the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office did not find that defunding would have that effect.
But in a letter to Sen. Max Baucus, Sebelius explains that since the health care law repealed the old rates for private plans, Medicare could be left with no legal authority to continue to issue payments.
She told the Montana Democrat that would risk "significant disruptions in services" to about 13 million Medicare recipients.