Over A Half Trillion Dollars Stolen From Medicare - Sen. Patty Murray Is OK With That

It is time to stop the “Real Steal” from Medicare.

It is time to stop the “Real Steal” from Medicare.


“Citing the nonpartisan Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, the paper  [Less Care at Higher Cost—The Medicare Advantage Paradox] notes that Medicare Advantage (MA) plans have overcharged the federal government to the tune of $612 billion since 2007—and $82 billion last year alone.”  [A $600 Billion Swindle]

Several weeks ago, I contacted the office of Senator Patty Murphy, our senator here in Washington state, about the monumental theft from the Medicare Trust Fund caused by the continued existence and promotion of Medicare Advantage. My exact message to Sen. Murray is not available because within her website, like most such websites of members of Congress, the “supplicants,” AKA “we the voters,” are presented with a message form in which to enter comments. Invariably it is a form that does not present you, the constituent, with a dated, comeback copy of the message sent.

This is Murray's clueless and dissembling response to me in its entirety. I have highlighted in red some of her commentary. 

Dear Mr. Conoboy, 
Thank you for contacting me with your concerns about the Medicare Advantage program. I appreciate hearing from you about this critical issue. 
Like you, I strongly believe our seniors deserve a health care system that works for them and puts their needs first. That is why I have long fought to defend the Medicare program, including making sure seniors have the option of enrolling in Medicare Advantage. Today, 32 million Americans are enrolled in Medicare Advantage, including 688,000 Washingtonians, and have found that the plans offered meet their coverage needs. I remain committed to working to ensure all beneficiaries have a choice between Medicare Advantage and Traditional Medicare. 
As Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee and a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, I will stand up for Washington State seniors to make sure that they receive the quality and affordable health care they deserve. Rest assured, I will do everything I can to fight back against any proposals from Congressional Republicans that could negatively impact both Traditional Medicare and Medicare Advantage. 
Again, thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns with me. The views of Washingtonians are very important to my work. If you would like to know more about my work in the U.S. Senate, feel free to sign up for my updates at http://murray.senate.gov/updates. Please keep in touch. 

Note that Murray only identifies Republicans as the threat to Medicare. In fact, while Medicare Advantage was created in its present form in 2003 under Bush II, it survived and flourished and was plundered for eight years under the Democratic administration of Obama/Biden. And so far, the Democratic administration of Biden/Harris have added an additional three+ years. Democrats own… lock, stock, and barrel… MA and the attendant conditions allowing this monumental thievery from its trust fund since its creation.  

Murray completely ignores the facts around MA's high costs to Medicare and the blatant denial of medical treatment to MA insureds through prior authorization requirements. She chairs the Senate's powerful Committee on Appropriations and is a member of the Committee on the Budget. The U.S. Senate, to which she manifestly belongs, has looked at these issues, so her pretended ignorance cannot be anything but willful.  

“Medicare Advantage has faced scrutiny surrounding its marketing policies and prior authorization requirements. The Senate Finance Committee highlighted misleading advertisements and aggressive in-person tactics employed by health plans, brokers, and third-party marketers.” [healthpayerintelligence.com]

Also ignored by Murray were the additional programs set up to steal from Medicare, that is, Direct Contracting Entities and its evil scion, ACO Reach. Complaints about ACO Reach were so numerous and effective that they caused the suspension of further expansion of the program. Locally, PeaceHealth jumped at the chance to create a Direct Contracting Entity a few years back. For more about that, see my article, “The Blob” or Peace Health’s Latest Expansion Gambit.” 

As I have said before, that Medicare Advantage hand feeling about in your pocket is not looking for a good time, it is looking for your wallet. You can get in touch with Sen Murray through her website Working for Washington State. Tell her what you think about her seemingly insouciant attitude toward the monumental plunder of the Medicare Trust Fund.  You can also copy and send this article to her here, right now.  

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

Shannon Skinner

Jun 16, 2024

I received the same boilerplate reply from Sen. Patty Murray regarding Medicare Advantage. Here was my response to her (I type it up in a doc before submitting to her website to keep track):

Dear Senator Murray:

I received your email reply yesterday and would like to thank you for your response. The content of the email is disturbing, however.

You state that you “remain committed to working to ensure all beneficiaries have a choice between Medicare Advantage and Traditional Medicare.” Yet, in Washington state, when Medicare Advantage enrollees grow frustrated with narrow provider networks, constant delays, and denials of care, they often cannot switch back to Traditional Medicare due Medigap policy disqualification. This makes Traditional Medicare unaffordable for many and locks them into an inferior Medicare Advantage Plan, skews the stats, and creates the illusion of “choice.”

If you truly want to preserve Medicare choice for America’s seniors, you could use your seniority and standing in the US Senate, your position as Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and your membership in the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, to ensure that Washington state and all other states join Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, and New York in regulating Medigap eligibility.

These four states require either continuous or annual guaranteed issue protections for Medigap for all beneficiaries in traditional Medicare ages 65 and older, regardless of medical history and/or pre-existing conditions. This would give Traditional Medicare a fair fight against Medicare Advantage’s predatory marketing and allow seniors to change their minds after finding out they have been fleeced.

I am glad you are willing to fight against Republicans who want to destroy Medicare completely. While Republicans want to dismantle Medicare wholesale, your support for Medicare Advantage also dismantles Traditional Medicare as we know it, only more slowly and from the inside.

I am sure your constituents tell their Medicare Advantage horror stories to you and plead for your help. I am also sure that if the health care plan available to members of Congress were switched to a Medicare Advantage plan tomorrow, you would see the issue differently.

It is not too late for you to change your mind about Medicare Advantage and change course to prevent ongoing harms to America’s seniors. If I were you, I couldn’t sleep well at night knowing that seniors - your peers - spend the most frightening days of the end of their lives dueling with Medicare Advantage plans, pleading for healthcare, and enduring delays that cost them their lives.

Medicare Advantage began as an experiment. Normally, when experiments fail to deliver expected results, we consider them flawed and change course. By all accounts and measures, Medicare Advantage has failed our country’s seniors and has lined the pockets of Big Healthcare. Medicare Advantage costs the US government more and delivers worse results than Traditional Medicare. In 2019, Medicare Advantage plans cost tax-payers $9 billion more than if beneficiaries were in original Medicare.

Please consider your legacy and the wellbeing of your constituents. Please stop Medicare Advantage from overtaking our beloved social safety net program of Traditional Medicare.


Dick Conoboy

Jun 16, 2024


Thanks for your reply and the advice on keeping a copy of the text of messages sent.  A screen shot might work, too.  Will try that next time.

Yours was an excellent response to Murray’s canned answers to constituents’ questions.  You have more patience than I do! 


M. Lynda Hanscome

Jun 16, 2024

 I fear that all the protests/letters, etc. may be too little, too late.  I left PH in March.  PH is obviously receiving my medical information via Medicare as I keep getting cheerful-sounding email notices to say that ‘you have a new test result in your portal?’  eh?  I have a primary care physician who is NOT part of the PH Traditional Medicare ACO-Reach scam.  In the latest friendly annual letter from PH it notes that even after a patient leaves PH, PH can still snoop into the patient’s medical records to ‘see how the program is working.’   I will shortly contact Medicare to see if I can block these PH scammers from snooping through my private medical documents that have NOTHING to do with PH care.   I hate PH with all my heart.  Their greed and corruption know no bounds….

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