Seattle City Council Reacts To Medicare Privatization

Bellingham and Whatcom Councils should follow suit to protect their citizens from corporate control.

Bellingham and Whatcom Councils should follow suit to protect their citizens from corporate control.

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Seattle is taking action to oppose Medicare privatization efforts, now called ACO Reach, by adopting a resolution. The Bellingham and Whatcom County councils should adopt a similar resolution, given PeaceHealth’s recent plunge into a for-profit scheme to privatize Medicare in our region. It is relying on its menacing omnipresence and virtual omnipotence over health care. The privatization scheme adopted by PeaceHealth was created during the Trump administration and Biden is following along like a puppy. A deluge of opposition compelled the Biden administration to recreate the scam with a shiny new name, in order to hide the treachery inside the program. 

The text of the Seattle City Council resolution does not specifically address PeaceHealth, (our local and virtually only temple of healing), or their involvement in the privatization efforts. However, PeaceHealth by extension includes, and thereby indicts itself, with its involvement in the Biden program of privatization. 

This list of WHEREAS points from the Seattle resolution pretty well sum up the reasons Medicare should not be given over to private, for-profit management.    

WHEREAS, traditional Medicare, is a public good and should not be privatized; and

WHEREAS, Wall Street has for decades tried and failed to privatize the Social Security system; and

WHEREAS, the prospect of Wall Street getting a piece of what is projected to be $1.6 trillion of annual Medicare spending by 2028 has led to a rush to buy-up Accountable Care Organizations for managing Medicare services; and

WHEREAS, the Trump administration opened the door to the complete privatization of Medicare through a Direct Contracting pilot program allowing private equity firms, insurance companies, and corporate health businesses to directly contract to provide Medicare services; and

WHEREAS, the Biden administration ended the Direct Contracting pilot and rebranded it as the ACO REACH (Accountable Care Organization Realizing Equity, Access, and Community Health) pilot to begin in January of 2023; 

WHEREAS, public health advocates across the country see little difference between ACO REACH and the Direct Contracting pilot, since both pilot programs allow third party private entities to wedge themselves between patients and their healthcare providers and to draw down the Medicare Trust Fund by making huge profits in several ways, including weakening services for Medicare beneficiaries; and

WHEREAS, nothing in the ACO REACH pilot spells out a systemic way to address the real inequities suffered by BIPOC individuals and BIPOC communities due to historic under-resourcing; and WHEREAS, addressing real equity issues can be done within the traditional Medicare system

Jacobin Magazine reports that three days before the Seattle resolution, 

“…the Arizona Medical Association (ArMA), the state’s four-thousand-member-strong American Medical Association (AMA) chapter, passed a similar resolution in its House of Delegates, calling for the [privatization] program to be “terminated” and warning that seniors could find themselves thrown into a moneymaking system that “limits care to provide maximum profit.” The ArMA, which has previously voted down a resolution backing a single-payer health care system, also based its opposition on concern for doctors, pointing out they could end up enrolled in the program without choosing to be.”

So the danger is also to physicians who are, like Medicare patients, involuntarily dragged into the program. My recent articles (listed at Links below), reported that PeaceHealth's for-profit takeover of Traditional Medicare beneficiaries, took place in the dark of night. Why would this “wonderful program” not get the fanfare it deserves? It was hidden because it is part of a larger and egregious insertion of private entities, including hedge funds, investment groups and other non-medical companies into the health care decisions of thousands of Bellingham and Whatcom County residents. Be careful! Joe “The Plumber” Sixpack could be your next health care manager. Therefore, a resolution by each of our councils, similar to Seattle's, is in order. Bellingham and Whatcom County need only cut and paste the Seattle language.  

BE IT RESOLVED BY THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SEATTLE THAT:

Section 1. The City Council opposes the privatization of the Medicare system, favors terminating the

Accountable Care Organization Realizing Equity, Access, and Community Health (ACO REACH) pilot

program, and favors closing the door on third party entities in the Medicare system.

Section 2. The Office of Intergovernmental Relations is requested to transmit a copy of this position to

Washington State congressional delegation, to President Joe Biden, and to Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra.

Meanwhile, Susan Rogers, M.D. President of Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) is inviting people to join her on Monday, May 23 at 1:00 p.m. ET as the PNHP kicks-off its expanded national “Turning Up the Heat on Direct Contracting and REACH” campaign. [The event is free, but you must register in advance. See the full text of the email below under ATTACHED FILES or click here for more details.] “Speakers will include leaders from Jane Addams Senior Caucus, the California Alliance of Retired Americans, Puget Sound Advocates for Retirement Action, and the Wisconsin chapter of PNHP, as well as U.S. House Reps. Pramila Jayapal, Katie Porter, Mark Pocan, and Jan Schakowsky.”  

If you are currently on Medicare or know someone who is or who will soon be a Medicare beneficiary, you owe it to yourself and these others to become educated about this giveaway of Medicare funds. Attend the PNHP event. Alert your family, friends, and neighbors. Your actual lives could depend on it.

Related Links

Attached Files

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 [...]

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