By RICARDO ALONSO-ZALDIVAR
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Millions of seniors in popular private insurance plans offered through Medicare are getting a reprieve from some of the most controversial cuts in President Barack Obama's health care law.
The administration says it has decided to award quality bonuses to hundreds of Medicare Advantage plans rated just average. Under the new law, the quality bonuses were slated only for above-average plans. Critics call it a political move.
The $6.7 billion could head off service cuts that could have hurt Democrats in next year's elections.
The insurance industry says the bonuses will turn what would have averaged out as a net cut for the private insurance plans in 2012 into a slight increase.
An administration official says the reason for the bonuses is quality improvement, not politics.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)