Nancy Spillane: Watch out for profit-mongering insurance companies
Watch out, older Americans and people with disabilities. President Trump recently announced a plan giving corporate health insurers more control over your health care. His executive order calls for market based pricing, which would drive up costs for everyone with Medicare and steer more people into for-profit Medicare Advantage plans.
Trump ignores the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ warnings about the government audits revealing that many Medicare Advantage plans pose “imminent and serious risk to the health … of enrollees.” The insurers’ wrongdoings are systematic, endangering the health and financial well being of millions of people.
Here are the problems:
• Medicare Advantage plans have been overcharging the government for services. They refuse to pay back the tens of billions in overpayments that the federal government has made to them (to the tune of $10 billion a year).
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• Medicare Advantage plans fail to cover the care their members need and are entitled to. Government audits show that thousands of people end up paying for care that should have been covered.
• Many health plans have narrowed their provider networks.
The Trump Administration has been encouraging people into Medicare Advantage plans without regard to their deficiencies. It has failed to provide people with Medicare with meaningful information about their health plan choices as required by law. The Trump Administration promotes the business interests of Medicare Advantage plans (aka: profit-mongering insurance companies) that violate the law over the health care needs of vulnerable Americans.
The administration and its congressional allies are playing a game of bait and switch with older adults and people with disabilities; their goal is to fully privatize Medicare and shift more costs onto older and disabled Americans. They allow Medicare Advantage plans to lure people with benefits that traditional Medicare does not offer, such as dental care and transportation services to the doctor, without exposing their failings.
Trump’s executive order does nothing to hold the Medicare Advantage plans accountable for their fraudulent overcharges or their inappropriate denials of care and coverage. Rather, it rewards them. It gives them even more discretion regarding the services they cover and the freedom to create new bells and whistles to lure in members.
The health and financial well being of older and disabled Americans hangs in the balance. So if you are a Medicare patient, watch out.
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