Posts tagged ‘Corporate Greed’
CMS has decided to raise rates for private Medicare Advantage (MA) plans. This is contrary to its earlier announcement that private Medicare reimbursement rates would be reduced to reflect slower per capita growth in Medicare and health care. Politicians from both parties and insurance companies called for this change and, unfortunately, CMS reversed course.
So, private Medicare will continue to cost more than it would cost to serve similar beneficiaries in traditional Medicare. While this may be good for insurance companies that offer MA plans, it is not good for Medicare, the vast majority of Medicare beneficiaries, or taxpayers.
Why should we spend more of our limited public funds on private Medicare when traditional Medicare costs less? Why should taxpayers ensure private profits to deliver public Medicare coverage? After all, the experiment in privatizing Medicare was originally intended to see if a private model would cost less, while providing the same or better coverage than traditional Medicare. That was not to be.
Private plans left the market when their reimbursements were capped at or below the per capita rate of public Medicare. CMS failed to learn from that experiment, and maintain the cost of traditional Medicare as the maximum taxpayers would pay for private plans. Instead, since the Medicare Act of 2003 we actually pay private plans more than traditional Medicare. This result is not good for the financial security of the Medicare program or for the federal budget deficit. It’s not good for the vast majority of beneficiaries who continue to choose the traditional Medicare program. It’s not even best for many MA enrollees, particularly those with long-term and chronic conditions, who often get less coverage than they would in traditional Medicare. And remember, by design MA plans have limited networks, so private MA enrollees have fewer choices in physicians and other health care providers than they’d have in traditional Medicare.
The Center for Medicare Advocacy continues to call for parity in payments between private Medicare plans and traditional Medicare. It’s the best deal for taxpayers, the Medicare program, and the vast majority of Medicare beneficiaries. Common sense should prevail.
And we quote:
“Private insurers’ Medicare Advantage plans cost Medicare an extra $34.1 billion in 2012
Instead of being more efficient, private insurers have cost Medicare almost $300 billion more over the life of the program
A study published online today finds that the private insurance companies that participate in Medicare under the Medicare Advantage program and its predecessors have cost the publicly funded program for the elderly and disabled an extra $282.6 billion since 1985, most of it over the past eight years. In 2012 alone, private insurers were overpaid $34.1 billion.
That’s wasted money that should have been spent on improving patient care, shoring up Medicare’s trust fund or reducing the federal deficit, the researchers say.
The findings appear in an article published in the International Journal of Health Services by Drs. Ida Hellander, Steffie Woolhandler and David Himmelstein titled “Medicare overpayments to private plans, 1985-2012: Shifting seniors to private plans has already cost Medicare US$282.6 billion.”
Hellander is policy director at Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), a nonprofit research and advocacy group. Woolhandler and Himmelstein are professors at the City University of New York School of Public Health, visiting professors at Harvard Medical School and co-founders of PNHP.”
As we said in today’s Politico Op Ed, it’s time to support Senator Rockefeller’s bill – and all serious efforts to reduce what Medicare pays for prescription drugs. High time. There are over 50 million people with Medicare. Why would we not insist on lowering drug prices for all of them? It would save Medicare $141 Billion over ten years. Wal-Mart knows the value of negotiating low prices for vast numbers of people, and is sure to do so. So should Medicare.
The cover story of today’s Time Magazine Special Report agrees with our long-standing call for Medicare to negotiate drug prices and lower the age of Medicare eligibility. Even the CMS Medicare Director agrees that Medicare should negotiate what it pays for drugs. Just seven years ago Medicare didn’t even have a drug benefit – now it’s the largest buyer of drugs in the world!
Congress: It’s time to repeal the Bush-era prohibition against Medicare negotiating on behalf of all its customers. That’s how to drive costs down for Medicare, older people, people with disabilities, and taxpayers.
Wal-Mart does it – Medicare should too!
Want to lower the costs of Medicare for all beneficiaries and taxpayers? Lower the prices Medicare pays for prescription drugs! Like Medicaid and the Veterans Administration – Medicare should negotiate discounts for all beneficiaries. This would save over $200 Billion over the next 10 years.
It’s time to end the Bush era gift to the pharmaceutical industry, which got 50 million new customers when Medicare began covering drugs in 2006, without being asked to lower prices in return. Walmart and Costco negotiate prices for all their customers, that’s how their customers pay less. Medicare should do no less for its “customers.” Surely older people, people with disabilities and taxpayers deserve the kind of consideration given to Walmart shoppers.
“Check out our website for a full list of solutions that would preserve Medicare coverage while reducing costs to taxpayers.”
Originally Published at Nieman Watchdog, in ASK THIS, June 14, 2012 (available at http://niemanwatchdog.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=ask_this.view&askthisid=00569), we offer reporters and editors a checklist for stories when the Supreme Court rules on the Affordable Care Act (ACA):
- What will happen to the Medicare Part D Donut Hole coverage, preventive benefit coverage improvements, Part D income-based premiums?
- Will young adults receiving coverage up to age 26 on their parents’ plans immediately lose their coverage? Will they be able to get coverage elsewhere?
- Will children with pre-existing conditions lose their coverage? If so, how will they get coverage in the future?
- What will happen in states that have started to implement the law, for example by setting up “exchanges”? Will some states try to proceed without ACA?
- What will happen to those who would have been covered by the Medicaid enhancements under the law?
- If so, what was struck down?
- What is left?
- Can the law still work without this requirement?
- Can the law be amended to make it work, without a minimum coverage mandate?
- What demographic groups will be most harmed?
- What will be the effect on costs to the federal government, states, and individuals?
Unless the entire law is upheld, people in need of health care will lose. Be ready to recognize what will be lost – and by whom.
This week, Republican presidential candidates vie for their party’s nomination in Florida, where millions of residents rely on Medicare as a health and economic lifeline for themselves and their families. Unfortunately, some candidates are scaring seniors – making clearly incorrect and harmful statements about the effect of the Affordable Care Act on Medicare.
As the Center for Medicare Advocacy has reported since the passage of the landmark legislation, Health Care Reform does NOT hurt Medicare benefits. In fact, it expands and improves benefits for all people with Medicare while saving our nation and taxpayers billions of dollars over the next decade.
Most recently, former Senator Santorum made significant misstatements about Medicare. Contrary to his statements, people with Medicare are NOT losing their doctors and are NOT facing rationing because of Health Care Reform. In fact, the Medicare payment board he mentions does not even exist yet. When it does begin, it will be charged with keeping overall Medicare costs down and will be specifically prohibited from reducing benefits.
Additionally, Mr. Santorum’s desire to “fix” Medicare by privatizing it and giving taxpayer money to insurance companies makes you wonder who he really wants to help. Privatizing Medicare and repealing health reform, which he also recommends, won’t help Florida’s older people or their families, but it would provide a windfall to the insurance industry. The traditional community Medicare program has helped generations of Americans at far less cost than private insurance. And health care reform has already enhanced Medicare, adding preventive benefits with no cost-sharing and reducing costs for prescription drugs.
If the Senator is truly concerned for the care of Florida’s people who rely on Medicare and the program’s integrity, he should get the facts straight and speak the truth about Medicare and health care reform. To start, he can visit the Center’s “Solutions for Strengthening Medicare” for common-sense ways to improve and expand the program while saving billions of dollars. www.medicareadvocacy.org.
This week, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) outlined yet another effort to privatize Medicare; a twist on Rep. Ryan’s voucher plan from earlier this year.
The new proposal would supposedly “preserve” the traditional Medicare program, but force it to compete with private plans. Similar to the earlier Ryan voucher plan, which the Congressional Budget Office estimated would cost Medicare beneficiaries twice as much as traditional Medicare, this one is based on the flawed assumption that private plans will save Medicare money through competition and innovation. The belief that privatization will drive down costs is not based in fact.
On the contrary, private plans have not saved Medicare money, and often cost more than traditional Medicare. In fact, traditional Medicare — not private plans — has been the leader in innovations to keep health costs down and increase quality.
Under the latest Ryan privatization plan, beneficiaries would have a voucher to purchase a health plan (including traditional Medicare), and there would be a cap on the overall amount of Medicare spending per beneficiary. If a plan (including traditional Medicare) cost more than the voucher amount, then the beneficiary would have to pay the difference between the actual price and the voucher.
If traditional Medicare is forced to compete with private, for-profit plans, as Ryan proposes, private plans will work to minimize their spending, and woo the least costly beneficiaries. If beneficiaries that are more expensive to treat remain in traditional Medicare, it will be at a built-in competitive disadvantage, and might well become unsustainable.
The math is pretty simple. If beneficiaries pay more for health care, the federal government will save money. That’s where these federal savings come from. But this approach won’t do anything to reduce overall health care spending, which is the real problem. Instead, it will likely lead to reduction in benefits and increase cost-sharing for Medicare beneficiaries. Don’t be fooled into thinking this proposal protects and preserves Medicare – it eliminates a unified program.
Traditional Medicare has changed dramatically since its inception in 1965. It has been a cost-effective health care insurance model leading to innovation, access to care and economic security. But Medicare has been complicated and made more expensive by adding layers of private options. Further, as Medicare becomes more and more fragmented and traditional Medicare loses enrollment, it loses its bargaining power over health care costs and its ability to create innovations in the broader health system.
Untethered from the overspending and complexities that have been foisted on Medicare by private plans and non-negotiable drug prices, it could once again be a model, for affordable health insurance. Traditional Medicare needs to be strengthened with fewer, not more private options.
To reduce the deficit, the President suggests we increase taxes for the 430,000 Americans who have incomes above $1 million. The Republican leadership (Boehner, Ryan, McConnell and Graham) say that’s class warfare. They say it’s unfair to balance the budget at the expense of these few rich people (0.3% of the population). Instead, they say, we should look to reduce spending – only. In particular, we should cut Medicaid and Medicare.
47 million older and disabled Americans are enrolled in Medicare. 58 million poor children, pregnant women, older and disabled people are enrolled in Medicaid.
Query: Why is it class warfare to tax a little more the few of us who are lucky enough to be millionaires, but it’s not class warfare to cut health care coverage for the vast number of us who are enrolled in Medicare and Medicaid? Discuss.