To the Editor:
Medicare’s goal is to have all traditional Medicare recipients in managed care arrangements by 2030 [https://innovation.cms.gov/strategic-direction-whitepaper; see p. 13]. That’s bureaucratic speak for privatizing Medicare by putting a commercial business—a middleman—between you and your doctor. The many millions of people on traditional Medicare will be shifted against their will to programs in which commercial middlemen can profit by reducing the amount of care they receive.
Do people realize what “privatizing” Medicare means? Medicare was designed to give senior citizens direct access to medical care: no middlemen deciding whether you can see a doctor, which doctor you can see, or which covered service the doctor can provide. That’s why Medicare is so popular, successful, and efficient.
“Privatizing” Medicare means putting a “gatekeeper” between the patient and the doctor. This middleman decides whether you can see a doctor, which doctor you can see, and which services the doctor can provide. Worse, the less care the middleman approves, the more money the middleman makes. These arrangements give the middleman a fixed amount of money for your care. If it spends less than that amount, the middleman gets to keep some of the unspent money. In essence, privatization means some business makes money by deciding you don’t need medical care.
If you want to know what this means, consider that Wall Street and private equity are rushing to get a piece of this middleman action. The piece they get is a piece of care that you won’t get.
Although they often don’t realize it until it’s too late, people in the Medicare Advantage (MA) program—also many millions—are already in arrangements where the insurers profit by denying or delaying needed care [see the recent HHS report on the large portion of MA insurer denials that were improper: https://oig.hhs.gov/oei/reports/OEI-09-18-00260.pdf].
Combined, these facts mean that by 2030, Medicare will have been completely privatized.
If you don’t care that your Medicare is being handed over to private corporations and financial firms, so they end up profiting by making decisions about your care, you should. YOU SHOULD!