MORE ON MEDICARE DURING OPEN ENROLLMENT
This is more about what I am thinking, learning experiencing in my life as an elder. In the interest of full disclosure, as I write I am wearing my Medicare for All t-shirt. I also believe that healthcare is a right not a privilege. I am saying yes to what I call actual Medicare plus supplement and no to advantage plans that use the name Medicare to market themselves.This year I'm asking myself how my need for supplement came about. For an answer I turn to "The Hidden History of American Healthcare: Why Sickness Bankrupts You and Makes Others Insanely Rich" by Thom Hartmann. If you have read this far you have taken the plunge into the river(flow)of life experiences that is Stories and Journeys.
MEDIGAP INSURANCE AS A THREAT TO ACTUAL MEDICARE
It's 1965. Robert Ball, Social Security commissioner, along with President Lyndon Johnson designed what I choose to call actual Medicare. They set it up so that it could be changed over from a focus on elderly people over 65 to a universal healthcare system. Sadly, it turns out that Republicans and southern Democrats in the U.S. Congress had a different idea about how to set up Medicare. In 1965, when Medicare was passed into law, they stuck in a 20 percent gap in coverage that people like you and me would have pay out of pocket.
Who gains and who loses as a result of this gap? Who gains? According to Thom Hartmann: "......that gap represented a multibillion-dollar profit opportunity for insurance companies to expand into; and expand they did, with Medigap policies......." Who loses? The cost of Medigap policies is unaffordable for many seniors leaving them on the hook for that 20 percent gap in coverage. Who else loses? People like me wearing their Medicare for All t-shirts literally or figuratively. I am grateful that there is a Medicare program, but it will never realize its full potential as long as the gap is allowed to exist. Scrap the gap so Medicare for All can be more than words on a t-shirt.
MEDICARE ADVANTAGE INSURANCE PLANS AS A THREAT TO ACTUAL MEDICARE
For me Thom Hartmann gets to the heart of the matter when he writes: "Nearly from its beginning, Medicare has allowed private companies to offer plans that essentially compete with it, but they were an obscure corner of the market and didn't really take off until the Bush Administration rolled out the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003. This was the big chance for the GOP (and a few corporatist Democratics) to finally privatize Medicare, abeit on bite at a time."
For me this is when so called Medicare Advantage Plans became a threat to actual Medicare and continue to be today. Advantage plans are draining the Medicare Trust Fund.
MEDICARE REACH AS A THREAT TO ACTUAL MEDICARE
REACH is a rebranded program by the Biden Administration known as Medicare Direct Contracting, which originated under the Trump Administration's Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation. To learn about REACH, go to www.protectmedicare.net. Here is a salient quote from the website: "This under-the-radar program invited third-party middlemen to 'manage' the care of Traditional Medicare beneficiaries. It also created financial incentive for these middlemen to frustrate patients and deny medically necessary care." This includes moving patients from Traditional Medicare into Advantage Plans without their knowledge
U.S. HOUSE DEBT COMMISSION AS A THREAT TO MEDICARE AND SOCIAL SECURITY
The Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives have just elected a new Speaker. His name is Mike Johnson. As an elder who relies on my earned benefits (not entitlements), I am finding Mike Johnson to seem more and more like an modern-day Scrooge.
According to an email I have received from Michael Phelen of Social Security Works on Oct. 25 on the subject, 'Who is Mike Johnson?': "Speaker Johnson wants to create a 'debt commission.' It would create a fast-tracked closed door process to destroy Social Security and Medicare. This debt commission could turn out to be a lump of coal in my Christmas stocking and that of other elders. As far as I know Social Security and Medicare contribute nothing to the national debt."
So, dear reader, what, if any, are your perceptions of threats to traditional/actual Medicare? Tell your self, tell others or tell me via Tesha@longfellownokomismessenger.com
As always, in gratitude.
Donald L. Hammen is a longtime south Minneapolis resident, and serves on the All Elders United for Justice Board of Directors.