Here is a transcript of Obama on ” Face the Nation” today.
Bob asks him about the Medicare Advantage program (also called private Medicare HMO), which is several different programs run by insurance companies for Medicare eligible senior citizens. One better know example is Secure Horizons. About 20% of all Medicare eligible citizens are now covered under the private Medicare Advantage program. To be in an Advantage program, one must “opt out” of Medicare for at least one year . Every year you can either re-join traditional Medicare or stay with your Advantage program. When the Advantage programs came out several years ago (a Republican idea), seniors did not understand they were totally out of the Medicare program for that year which resulted in a lot of confusion in doctors’ offices. Seniors like the MA programs because insurance companies often cover eyeglasses , hearing aids, and sometimes prescriptions. When Obama says he is cutting “waste” out of Medicare, the numbers he quotes includes the amount CONGRESS has voted to give to insurance companies to take care of seniors who would otherwise be on traditional Medicare. Medicare Advantage is not fraud, waste, or abuse–it was voted on by Congress. Many doctors complained to their Republican congressmen when last year they wanted to expand money for the Medicare Advantage program, which meant more money to the insurance company, while doctors were threatened with a 10% across the board cut in reimbursement. Note that this was a time when Republican doctors did not agree with their Republican representatives in Congress.
Obama makes the incorrect statement that the MA insurance companies are “overcharging.” Insurance companies are given a subsidy by the CONGRESS for each senior in their MA programs; the insurance companies can’t just send in a bill to Medicare/US government. Obama brings up his usual line about the wicked insurance companies making huge profits on the Medicare Advantage program which is flat out false. Again, if Obama thinks the insurance companies are paid too much, all he has to do is tell Congress to appropriate less money for the program, pay the insurance companies less, and let the free market work. But no, the Democrats hate the evil Republican MA program, so they want to eliminate it altogether. That is why it is a lie everytime Obama tells seniors they will have no change in their benefits. At least 20% of usually poor seniors who like their MA program will get screwed—they will be FORCED to go back to traditional Medicare with fewer benefits.
Mr. Obama, please get Ms. Sebelius to explain how the MA program works.