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For years, the Center for Medicare Advocacy has warned of wasteful overspending on private Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, the limitations on access to physicians and health care provided by MA, and the difficulties in obtaining the same coverage from the plans as is available in real Medicare. (See Case Study below.)

Despite these efforts, Medicare Advantage continues to be touted by the Administration and myriad advertising campaigns.  Private Medicare Advantage is promoted and invested in far more than real Medicare; beneficiaries and the Medicare program are harmed as a result.

So why does it feel like nobody else has noticed?

This is the central question asked in an excellent piece from Trudy Lieberman last week, in which Lieberman examines an October LA Times Column analyzing the recent Executive Order that rolled back protections in private Medicare Advantage, and increased efforts to push people into those plans. The Center for Medicare Advocacy also responded in detail to the Order.

That column focused on the disparity between the President’s public comments – “Nobody will lay a hand on your Medicare benefits” – versus the Administration’s actions, particularly the Executive Order, which are referred to as “pushing Medicare Advantage assiduously in a way that may lure in seniors for whom these plans are the wrong choice.” Lieberman acknowledges that it is clear that the Administration is “proposing to privatize Medicare” but follows up by raising the troubling fact that

“There was scant analysis of what the order would do and how it will impact those now on Medicare and those yet to come. The press, for the most part, was AWOL. That’s despite the fact that the changes would affect the kind of coverage beneficiaries would get now and in the future.”

Health care has become a key issue this election season, and some candidates are promoting versions of “Medicare for All” – whether that means Medicare or something new.  However, there needs to be a renewed focus on the threats to the real Medicare program right now. Slowly but surely the program that has supported older people and people with disabilities for decades is being fragmented and sold off to private insurance companies.

Where is the outcry?

November 14, 2019 – M. Shepard

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