Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Seniors Protest Medicare "Advantage" Rip-off

The labor-affiliated Alliance for Retired Americans is calling July 23rd a day of protest to demand an end to federal subsidies for insurance companies offering privatized “Medicare Advantage” plans.

The subsidies, seen by many senior advocates as a back-door attempt to privatize Medicare, end up costing taxpayers and Medicare beneficiaries more than traditional Medicare.

State insurance commissioners have complained that insurers who carry Medicare Advantage use highly aggressive sales tactics to pressure seniors to accept privatized plans.

Medicare Advantage enrollees have reported significant interruptions in their health care and unexpected medical bills.

In addition, Medicare Advantage plans often do not provide adequate emergency care coverage.

Earlier this week, health care activists in Washington State and Wisconsin drew public attention to the issue.

An analysis by Washington’s Community Action Now reveals that it costs $1,503 more per year for every Washingtonian enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan than it would cost to provide care for that person in traditional Medicare.

A similar study in Wisconsin found that Medicare Advantage costs an extra $1,533 per year than traditional Medicare.

The studies also found that every Medicare recipient is forced to pay more out of pocket expenses to fund the privatized plans.

Will Parry, President of the Puget Sound Alliance for Retired Americans, linked the pressure on beneficiaries to accept Medicare Advantage plans to Bush's ongoing effort to privatize Social Security.

Parry said, "Medicare is headed down a similar path, and Congress needs to again take a stand to ensure that our public health care dollars go toward people’s health care, not into health industry CEOs’ wallets.”

--From Political Affairs Radio. Subscribe to this podcast in iTunes.

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