Nancy Spillane: Next Congress must protect and strengthen Medicare
Medical providers once used leeches to drain the lifeblood from their patients, often killing them in the process. Nowadays, large hospitals, pharmaceutical and for-profit insurance companies leech scarce public health funds for their own exorbitant profits, obscene CEO salaries, unnecessary services, and it’s killing our health care system.
And they still want more. They have their sights set on the $1.5 trillion annual Medicare budget, and they have some Congress people willing to help them get to it.
Without public discussion, these Congressional shills slid into the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2018 a policy called the “Creating High Quality Results and Outcomes Necessary to Improve Chronic (CHRONIC) Care Act.” It “sounds good.” It adds funding to Medicare to help those with multiple chronic conditions in the areas of nutrition, transportation and housing. These are all important social contributions to health, in support of home care.
However, in order to qualify for these new services, patients must enroll in a plan that gives a portion of each Medicare dollar to their for-profit insurance provider. The CHRONIC Care Act only covers those who have Medicare Advantage plans that are run by insurance corporations.
Even before this act, Medicare spent 13 percent more per person for people in Medicare Advantage plans. The extra 13 percent has allowed insurance companies to leech extra profits from Medicare — a real “advantage” for them over regular Medicare.
As more people enroll, a transition to privatized Medicare is also made easier. If privatized, the health care industry will then be able to leech off even more of the $1.5 trillion, taxpayer-funded Medicare budget.
Medicare works. We must not let insurance companies kill Medicare by bleeding it dry.
This fall, we must elect a Congress that protects Medicare, not health care industry profits.
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