As of February, more than 2,000 physicians will be dropped from UnitedHealthcare’s Medicare Advantage program in Connecticut. Although you’ll see this referred to as a profit-related move in the media, this is not about United being greedy.
Obamacare cuts billions from Medicare. The cuts, in large part, come from demolishing Medicare Advantage. This is an extremely popular program run by private insurance companies, and therein lies the rub. Private means that you make the choice, the government does not make the choice for you, and, under Obamacare, this will never do. Read more
By now everyone knows that a large piece of Obamacare’s “deficit neutrality” comes from the provision that would eliminate Medicare Advantage programs for seniors. This will “save” the government some $136 billion over 10 years.
Medicare Advantage is despised by the left because it is privately run, and demonstrates to all that “market pricing and competition” are far more effective than total government control of health care. Conversely, seniors like Medicare Advantage because it covers the costs of virtually all medical treatment, and at a price far less than a senior would pay for one of those “nifty” Medigap policies sold by AARP, assuming, of course, that a senior could afford one of those policies. Currently, 25% of all seniors are enrolled in Medicare Advantage, and that figure is rising at the rate of 6% per year.
Last Friday, Health and Human Services released its annual “call letter,” which introduces the formula that will set Medicare rates for 2012. Out of nowhere, per capita Medicare Advantage payments will increase by 1.6% on average. The update was 0% for 2011, and most Wall Street analysts were forecasting a negative update for the coming year…
Just as the Department of Health and Human Services has recently “helped” some 2.1 million Americans “keep” the insurance they have (that they otherwise would have lost under this year’s Obamacare rules), the same department is now “helping” seniors keep their Medicare Advantage.
Why the sudden shift?
Well, we are going into “election” mode, and it just wouldn’t do to have millions of Americans feel the brunt of Obamacare…at least not yet.
We are told that millions who currently have no health insurance will soon be covered under Obamacare. But, where will the money come from to do this?
By 2017, thousands of people in Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio will be paying more than $5,000 per year in lost health-care benefits to make ObamaCare possible…[f]or some New York City dwellers, the figure will exceed $6000 a year. Unfortunate residents of Ascension, La. will pay more than $9000 in lost benefits.
The rich, you ask? No, these are the people who can little afford to lose those benefits. They are predominantly the poor, and, they are the current participants in Medicare Advantage programs.
Medicare itself doesn’t cover most prescription drugs, and, it’s abysmal reimbursement rates to health care providers leaves many seniors on the hook for thousands of dollars in medical expenses. If you are “rich”, you purchase a “Medigap” insurance policy to cover these extra charges, and, purchase Medicare Part D drug coverage. But, the premiums are costly. And, many seniors simply can’t afford them.
For those seniors (25% of all Medicare recipients) , there is Medicare Advantage. Under Medicare Advantage, seniors:
can enroll in comprehensive health plans that resemble the coverage many nonseniors have–often with no extra premium.
But, Medicare Advantage plans are being eliminated under Obamacare. So, if you live, for example, in Ascension, La. you will have to spend $9000 per year (which you don’t have) in order to keep the same benefits you had before Obamacare, or, go without some medical care.
Those of you who were in favor of Obamacare, did you know that this would happen? And, if you didn’t, why didn’t you?
Knowing what will happen under Obamacare, does anyone find the pre-election reemergence of this commercial , paid for with your tax dollars, to be particularly offensive?
I do find it ironic, though, that many Democrats are running on a platform of “don’t vote for Republicans as they will take away your Medicare benefits”. Haven’t the Democrats already done that?
At this point, as a result of Obamacare, there is little left to take.
Recently Humana, a Kentucky insurance company that offers Medicare Advantage plans, sent a letter to all of the seniors enrolled in its plans. Although some say the form of the letter may have been an issue, it is the substance of the letter that drew outrage from Senator Baucus (D-Mont.), the author of the Baucus Unaffordable Health Care Bill.
The letter advised seniors that because of spending cuts to Medicare contained within the bill,
millions of seniors and disabled individuals could lose many of the important benefits and services that make Medicare Advantage health plans so valuable.
As a result of the Senator’s ire, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) sent Humana a cease and desist order claiming that the mailing was “misleading and confusing”.
Just in case the cease and desist order against Humana doesn’t do the trick, the CMS (no doubt at Senator Baucus’ urging) has also banned any provider of Medicare Advantage plans from providing similar information to their insureds.
Here is what Senator Baucus had to say,
It is wholly inappropriate for insurance companies to mislead seniors regarding any subject—particularly on a subject as important to them, and to the nation, as health-care reform…[t]he health-care reform bill we released last week strengthens Medicare and does not cut benefits covered under the Medicare program—and seniors need to know that.
I can only assume that Senator Baucus hasn’t read his own bill as it clearly makes major cuts to Medicare Advantage Plans. Or, he hasn’t listened to the Congressional Budget Office which places the cuts to Medicare Advantage at $100 billion over 10 years. Or, he hasn’t listened to any of the well over 100 speeches given by the President, which also describe the cuts to Medicare Advantage.
And, here is what Senator McConnell (R. Ky.) had to say in response, but Hot Air has the full speech on video.
Update: And who at CMS decided the Humana letter was false and misleading? Jonathan Blum…a former senior aide to Senator Baucus, and a health advisor on the Obama transition team!
Although, the President has called for a civil discourse about Obamacare, it would seem to be difficult to have that discourse with a gag in your mouth.