Medicare Beneficiaries to Uncle Joe: “Thanks for stopping by.”

Biden missed a chance to truthfully address his administration’s actions to privatize Medicare.

Biden missed a chance to truthfully address his administration’s actions to privatize Medicare.

Our president finally wended his way to the Pacific Northwest last week to save the trees, a laudable pursuit. The above photo shows Uncle Joe with some of our elected reps in Congress and Guv'nor Jay signing an executive order on forests and such.  

Sez the Prez:  

“We’ve reached the point where the crisis on the environment has become so obvious, with the notable exception of the former president, that we really have an opportunity to do things we couldn’t have done two, five, ten years ago,” 

Joe also spoke about health care and his April 5th Executive Order on Continuing to Strengthen Americans’ Access to Affordable, Quality Health Coverage, which did not even once mention the continuing efforts to privatize that essential part of health care, Medicare. 

Imagine had he said instead:

“We’ve reached the point where the crisis on Medicare/Health Care has become so obvious, with the notable exception of the former president, that we really have an opportunity to do things we couldn’t have done two, five, ten years ago,” 

But even that would not ring true since ten or so years ago Joe and his buddy Barack had an opportunity to turn health care around but instead sold out to the health insurance industry and Big Pharma. (Gotta keep those campaign donations coming in, eh?) Now it is executive order time for the Prez in an attempt at patching up (AKA “lipsticking the pig”) the (Un)Affordable Care Act, while at the same time completely ignoring the current efforts right here in the Pacific Northwest to privatize Medicare at the PeaceHealth conglomerate. I guess Joe's handlers and the congressional reps in the above photo forgot to mention to him that tens of thousands of Medicare beneficiaries were being moved, largely without notice from PeaceHeath, into a new version of Medicare (Dis)Advantage called Direct Contracting Entities and ACO Reach (as in “reach” into Medicare coffers).  

Now, to be honest, the executive order did call for:

“…[identification of] ways to continue to expand the availability of affordable health coverage, to improve the quality of coverage, to strengthen benefits, and to help more Americans enroll in quality health coverage.”

The problem is that the ways to achieve these goals are more and more being directed to free market solutions, such as Medicare Advantage, its evil progeny Direct Contracting Entities, and ACO Reach. These are the grand theft schemes creating the opening for “entrevoleurs” [from the French entre (between) and voleur (thief)]. These are the bald-faced robbers currently siphoning off billions of dollars of Medicare funds. (You can read more in my previous article Cantwell, Larsen, And Others Respond To Complaints About Medicare Privatization Attempts.) 

Fortunately, at least some members of Congress seem to have an awareness of these programs. In a recent letter, Democratic Representative Katie Porter of California led a group of lawmakers “in urging the Biden administration not to increase taxpayer funding for Medicare Advantage plans after a government report showed that the privately run program received $12 billion in overpayments in 2020—a problem driven by insurers exaggerating how sick their enrollees are” according to an article in Common Dreams (Katie Porter Leads Letter Urging Biden Not to Dump More Money Into Medicare Advantage).  From the article (bolded items mine):

"The record profit margins of health insurers participating in the Medicare Advantage program in 2021 indicate that insurance companies are generating significant revenue from excess Medicare Advantage payments. In 2021, Anthem reported profits of $6.1 billion—more than double its profits from a decade ago," the lawmakers wrote. "Anthem's explosive profit growth was driven by taxpayer dollars, which accounted for 61% of Anthem's $137 billion in revenues."

Those are dollars stolen from the American people, dollars that could have been spent to create a national health program, free from the money grubbers, and run with low overhead costs. Porter, et.al., made sure that Uncle Joe knew the legislators were also talking about those Center for Medicare Services pilot projects: Direct Contracting Entities and ACO Reach.

"The letter came as physicians and members of Congress are also taking the Biden administration to task for building on a Trump-era pilot program that could fully privatize traditional Medicare. In February, CMS announced a rebrand of the program that one physician likened to putting ‘a band-aid on a tumor.’ "

Trees take in carbon dioxide, which is a good thing, so by all means, Joe, take care of the health of the trees. But we also need you to take care of the health of another part of the carbon loop: the human beings who breathe out tons of carbon dioxide annually. We are also a part of nature's loop and our health should not be privatized/profitized at any point - not the trees, not the humans. 

About Dick Conoboy

Citizen Journalist and Editor • Member since Jan 26, 2008

Dick Conoboy is a recovering civilian federal worker and military officer who was offered and accepted an all-expense paid, one year trip to Vietnam in 1968. He is a former Army [...]

Comments by Readers

Elisabeth Marshall

Apr 28, 2022

In the last week there have been two long articles critical of Medicare Advantage published in Bloomberg and the NYT.  I’ve seen nothing recent in major media about  DCE’s and ACO REACH.  Call me skeptical, but I wonder, why all the recent hysteria about Advantage plans? Though deserved, it is rather sudden.  Could it be a distraction from the wolf at the door of traditional Medicare plans - namely DCEs/ACO REACH?  It is clear that the hollowing out of the Medicare Trust Fund is a bipartisan project. I urge support of Ranked Choice Voting - which opens the door to truly democratic elections and the opportunity to elect representives for whom the corporate purse does not hold the deciding vote.

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Dick Conoboy

Apr 28, 2022

Lis,

Thanks.  Do you have the links to the articles?  I assume that the NYT has a paywall but not sure about Bloomberg. 

In the meantime, I ran across the following frm the National Law Review:

CMS Responds to Industry Stakeholder Feedback, Redesigns and Renames the GPDC Model for DCEs as the ACO REACH Model

 

 

 

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Dianne Foster

May 18, 2022

LIz,

I would like the NY Times link,  as I’m a subsriber.   Thanks.

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Dick Conoboy

May 18, 2022

Here are some links as mentioned above:

Here’s the link to the NYT article - https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/28/health/medicare-advantage-plans-report.html?searchResultPosition=2

And the link to the Bloomberg article:  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2022-04-12/medicare-fraud-whistleblowers-accuse-insurers-of-faking-claims-to-make-billions

Unfortunately, some readers may find that these links are behind a pay wall. 

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