December 13, 2019

Sneak Attack on Medicare – Be Wary of Medicare Advantage

On October 6, 2019 the President issued an executive order that appeared to be an attack on Medicare for All but when the details of this executive order are looked at it is really an attack on our current Medicare system.  This is a continuation of longstanding efforts on behalf of the Republican caucus to privatize earned Medicare benefits for the benefit of Wall Street and for profit insurance corporations.

Here is a message from Nancy Altman, President of Social Security Works on October 5th.  “The President has signed an executive order, which his communications team hyped as defending Medicare from socialist destruction.”  Here’s the truth: The President’s executive order is Backdoor Privatization of Medicare.

The President’s executive order will push more seniors into private Medicare Advantage plans.  For years the Republican caucus put money into Medicare Advantage plans and allowed them to offer benefits that traditional Medicare is forbidden to cover. (eye, ear, transportation etc.) Medicare Advantage is stealth privatization intended to weaken and undermine traditional Medicare

Under the current administration the for profit insurers are flooding seniors inboxes and mailboxes with advertisements for Medicare Advantage.  What these ads doesn’t mention is that Medicare Advantage plans often have narrow networks, restricting what doctors and hospitals patients are allowed to see and often restrict the doctors to a certain geographical region that restricts care for those who travel. Worse, a recent government report found that, just like other for-profit insurers, Medicare Advantage plans improperly deny care “in an attempt to increase their profits.”  Its no surprise that older, sicker seniors are more likely to drop Medicare Advantage plans because of ever increasing costs and denied, needed benefits.  By allowing practices by the insurers that in essence allow the plans to “cherry pick” health seniors while leaving the sickest and most costly to be covered through traditional Medicare.  This seriously impacts the solvency of Medicare in the long term.  Medicare is an effective, popular government program that does not generate corporate insurance profits. That is why for profit health insurance and pharmaceutical corporations want to weaken and eventually destroy it.

Medicare Advantage plans also seemingly waste public dollars by overcharging Medicare by $30 billion in the past three years.  The executive order issued by the President seems to advantage for profit Medicare Advantage over traditional Medicare by framing the executive order as an attack on Medicare for All.  Medicare, like Social Security, works period.  To cover the portions of Medicare that are not covered a better option may be a Medicare Supplement plan that do not have restrictive networks, drug formularies or allow for profit insurance companies to deny coverage to increase profits.

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