Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Stealing from Grandma to provide corporate welfare

This extremely wonky report from the Commonwealth Fund will put you in a coma, but these days that's probably not such a bad option. Anyway, here's the take away.

The so-called Medicare Modernization Act (MMA) of 2003 included provisions intended to get Medicare beneficiaries to enroll in private health plans, instead of remaining with the core Medicare fee-for-service system in which Medicare pays doctors and hospitals directly. The Republican Party claimed, of course, that private plans could deliver care more cheaply than those gummint bureaucrats, and that privatization would save the taxpayers money.

You have already guessed the cold truth. Medicare pays the so-called Medicare Advantage plans 12.4 percent more than it would cost to take care of the same beneficiaries through traditional Medicare fee-for-service. That's $5.2 billion a year of your money, or $922 per beneficiary, that's going straight into the pockets of the insurance industry -- which has excellent connections with Congress through it's very well-endowed lobbying operation -- even as Medicare faces long-term funding problems. Will the Democratic congress try to fix this? I'm not holding my breath . . .

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