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The mid-term elections are 20 days away. To help keep Medicare in the forefront of candidates’ and voters’ minds, our SaveMedicareNow project is focusing on issues relevant to the promise and future of the Medicare program.  Last week, we focused on the importance of Medicare to young people.  This week, we focus on the growing imbalance between private Medicare Advantage plans and traditional Medicare.

Private Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, an option for receiving Medicare benefits, may not be the best choice depending upon each individual’s circumstances. In addition, a recent New York Times article highlighted a government report that found some MA plans inappropriately deny Medicare coverage for necessary care.  Despite such findings, the article notes that Administration officials said they are "committed to unleashing and strengthening" Medicare Advantage.  As the Center has highlighted elsewhere, recent legislative, regulatory and administrative actions have combined to tip the scales in favor of expanding private MA plans and enrollment. These include higher payment rates to MA plans, reducing MA consumer protections, weakening Medigap plans that supplement traditional Medicare, and authorizing MA plans to offer benefits beyond those allowed in the traditional program. 

Such actions are steering beneficiaries towards Medicare Advantage, and the Medicare program towards privatization. Indeed, it is the goal of some policymakers to tip Medicare enrollment towards private plans, to reach the point of no return. This shift would cost Medicare and taxpayers more, and could put sick and injured Medicare beneficiaries at greater risk. The private insurance industry, however, would be enriched. Advocates for Medicare beneficiaries see what's happening, and are alarmed. 

Here’s what you can do:

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