Thursday, June 7, 2007

Medicare "Advantage" only an Advantage for Insurers

As we've predicted, seniors enrolled in Medicare are feeling the affects of privatization legislation, called the Medicare Modernization Act, passed four years ago. We've released a new analysis today of how private Medicare Advantage plans are eroding traditional Medicare in favor of a privatized system subsidized by billions of federal dollars which go straight to insurers. Entitled: “Attack on Medicare: Private Health Plan Subsidies Windfall for Corporate America” this report finds:

· Even though they promised better benefits at lower costs than traditional Medicare; private insurers are actually being paid about $1,000 more for each beneficiary covered by private plans.

· These government subsidies will cost the federal government $149 billion dollars over the next decade. These overpayments will also cut two years from Medicare’s solvency.

· Not all of these subsidy dollars are being used to improve benefits. A significant portion goes straight to insurers rather than seniors. Meanwhile, every Medicare beneficiary (even those not in private plans) is paying $24 a year in higher premiums to pay for these industry subsidies, and that number will continue to rise.

Our President/CEO, Barbara Kennelly, joined other senior's groups and Medicare advocates on Capitol Hill today urging Congress to repeal these unfair corporate overpayments and rollback the privatization of Medicare before it’s too late. She says:

“Rome is already burning. Our members nationwide are paying higher premiums, facing larger out-of-pocket costs and being aggressively sold private plans which often do not even provide the coverage they need. The administration’s goal is clear…to stack the deck in favor of a Medicare program run by private insurance companies allowing the destruction of the traditional program seniors have depended on for decades. Congress must level the playing field and can start by eliminating these corporate giveaways.”

This methodical destruction of traditional Medicare is happening with so little attention on Capitol Hill it's frightening. For groups like ours the challenge now is to wake up Washington to what seniors all over this country are painfully discovering...the privatization of Medicare is certainly good for business but not for seniors who need inexpensive and dependable healthcare.

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