Forum for June 17, 2024: Medicare Advantage

Published: 06-17-2024 1:04 PM

Medicare’s disadvantage

Lake Sunapee VNA & Hospice CEO Jim Culhane shared how unacceptably low reimbursement by United Healthcare threatens essential services by community visiting nurses (“For-profit companies use Medicare as a lever”; June 11). He notes how seniors face harmful denial of services, limited inpatient rehab and restrictions to narrow medical networks and unexpected discontinuation of coverage for medications. These measures maximize profit, but harm patients.

There is a “bait, then can’t switch” feature: the initial guarantee to purchase affordable Medigap insurance disappears after a year’s enrollment with Medicare Advantage. Supplementary policies are thereafter denied or unaffordable for those who try to switch. Since 20% of traditional Medicare costs are covered by Medigap, many are financially trapped in a plan they don’t want. So much for the “consumer choice” touted by ads. Four states do preserve “guaranteed issue” but this can raise premiums, since higher costs of ill seniors are passed back from Medicare Advantage to traditional Medicare and Medigap plans. Of course, since the plans are all owned by the same corporations, that’s a win-win for Wall Street!

Medicare Advantage proposed to expand benefits and use managed care “efficiencies” to save Medicare money. In reality, Medicare pays privatized plans 22% more per beneficiary than traditional Medicare expended for identical services, despite their enrollees being healthier. Such “efficiencies” cost $104 billion to taxpayers. These excessive capitations to for-profit intermediaries offers a tax-funded Medicare Advantage gravy train. $100 billion is better spent improving long-term and home care, dental or vision benefits under traditional Medicare, with lower administrative costs and burden for hospitals and clinicians.

Kenneth Dolkart


Biden has ruined America

At the start of his term, Joe Biden signed dozens of executive orders (like dictators do), basically ruining our economy, canceling our energy self-sufficiency and opening our southern border wide open, to more than 10 million illegal immigrants, as well as illegal drugs, poured across. No immigrants were checked for disease, or criminal backgrounds. There was a COVID pandemic ongoing and Americans were forced to wear masks and get vaccinated. Immigrants weren’t. Outbreaks of polio, leprosy, measles, broke out in areas Joe Biden gave immigrants free bus and airline trips too. Americans have seen this.

As for drugs and crime, more than 330,000 Americans have died of overdoses since Biden took office. Perhaps drugs aren’t such a concern in the Biden home.

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Violent crime has spiraled upwards and illegal immigrants have killed a Washington state trooper, shot and assaulted multiple N.Y. policemen, and murdered 25-year-old Ruby Garcia and 22-year-old Laken Riley. I could list dozens more American victims.

Now the “Desperate Democrats,” unable to run a campaign touting any Biden accomplishments, have lowered themselves to locking up their competition, much the way Biden’s good friend, Vladimir Putin does. The American people have seen this political persecution of Donald Trump and don’t approve. Check the polls. I only hope Donald Trump sends drug sniffing dogs through the White House before taking occupancy. I’m proud to support “America First” Donald Trump for President!

John Nelson