Posts tagged ‘Corporate Greed’
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.
OPINION – Wall Street Journal, SEPTEMBER 28, 2010
Health Insurers Finally Get Some Oversight
By KATHLEEN SEBELIUS, Secretary of Health and Human Services
In the last two weeks, my department has been accused of “thuggery” (this editorial page) and “Soviet tyranny” (Newt Gingrich). What prompted these accusations? The fact that we told health-insurance companies that, as required by law, we will review large premium increases and identify those that are unreasonable.
There’s a long history of special interests using similar attacks to oppose change. In the mid-1960s, for example, some claimed Medicare would put our country on the path to socialism.
But what is really objectionable about these comments is not who they’re attacking, but what they’re defending. These critics seem to believe that any oversight of the insurance industry is too much, and that consumers would be better off in a system where they have few rights or protections.
Over the past decade, Americans have seen what happens when insurance companies have free rein. The cost of health insurance has more than doubled, while millions of hard-working Americans lost their coverage or drained their savings to keep up with premiums. Employers, big and small, have struggled mightily to absorb these cost increases and have been losing the fight.
As insurance commissioner and governor of Kansas, I saw firsthand how these rate hikes burdened people. I spoke with families who watched their insurance go up 20%, 30%, even 40% a year without explanation. I met with small business owners who had stopped offering health insurance to their employees because they couldn’t afford the annual double-digit premium increases.
A woman who wrote to me recently summed up the frustration that many feel. “As a self-employed, hard-working person,” she wrote, “I have no good options for health coverage.”
Yet even as our insurance markets have failed Americans time and time again, special interests successfully blocked reform. That’s changing with enactment of the new health insurance law. Under the Affordable Care Act, 46 states have already received grants to beef up their premium-review and oversight capabilities. And additional funding is on the way.
The law also gives clear instructions to the new state-based health insurance marketplaces called exchanges that will be created in 2014. As the exchanges decide what plans to include, they must incorporate recommendations from states about whether particular health insurance issuers should be excluded based on a pattern of excessive or unjustified premium increases.
We are already seeing this new level of accountability pay off. Last week, North Carolina’s largest insurer announced a “one-time refund that will return $155.8 million to more than 215,000 individual Blue Cross Blue Shield customers as a result of the Affordable Care Act.” This rebate will put an average of $720 back into the pockets of each of those policyholders. In addition, thanks to diligent work by North Carolina’s insurance commissioner, they’ll see their premiums rise by less than 6% in 2011, thesmallest rate increase in four years.
A day after Blue Cross Blue Shield’s announcement, seniors with private Medicare plans got some news that most Americans haven’t heard in years: Their premiums will actually go down 1% next year, even as many of them enjoy better benefits.
The Affordable Care Act is bringing some basic fairness to our health insurance market. So when I learned that a handful of insurers around the country are blaming their significant rate increases on the new law, even though the facts show that the impact of the law on premiums is small, just 1% to 2% declining over time‹I let them know that we’d be closely reviewing their rate hikes.
It’s understandable that some insurance companies and their allies don’t welcome this change. They’ve made large profits from the status quo. And it’s not surprising, though still disappointing, that House Republicans have recently pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act and get rid of these new consumer protections.
If critics really want to go back to the days when insurance companies ran wild with no accountability, they should have the courage to say so openly instead of hiding behind distracting attacks. In the meantime, we’re going to keep standing up for American families and small business owners who deserve a system that works for them.
Ms. Sebelius is the U.S. secretary of Health and Human Services. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704082104575515851336184716.ht