October 18, 2022
You’ve no doubt seen the ads, so I don’t need to tell you that Medicare’s open enrollment period has officially begun. Every year, commercial health insurers are allowed to chip away at our most important public health program by offering Medicare Advantage (MA) plans to America’s seniors, and this year’s enrollment period comes at an especially crucial time in our fight against the privatization of Medicare.
Projections indicate that by next year, more than half of Medicare beneficiaries will have enrolled in MA, putting the care of millions under the control of profit-seeking corporations and emboldening those who seek to hand our public programs to the private sector entirely.
At the same time, the Direct Contracting program continues its infiltration of Traditional Medicare, as participating entities have compromised the health plans of nearly 2 million beneficiaries, often without their full knowledge or consent. Starting January 1, 2023, this program will kick into overdrive as an expanded cohort of so-called “REACH entities” is given the opportunity to “manage” seniors’ care … in exchange for hefty profits.
What’s wrong with this picture? Look no further than a recent bombshell New York Times article, which builds on PNHP’s expertise and research to expose the ugly truth: MA insurers are accused of exploiting the program to extract millions of dollars from taxpayers while denying care to their beneficiaries. Shockingly, several of these exact same companies have won approval to participate in the REACH program.
Open enrollment is the perfect opportunity for PNHP members to highlight the greed of commercial health insurers and the danger of allowing them to further infiltrate Medicare. We’re encouraging everybody to write an op-ed or letter to the editor of your local newspaper describing the dangers of Medicare Advantage, the looming threat of REACH, and the urgent need for single-payer Medicare for All.
Here are some resources to help you get started:
Medicare Advantage communications toolkit:
- One-page handout: “The Problem with Medicare Advantage”
- PNHP statement: “CMS Should Terminate the Medicare Advantage Program”
- PowerPoint slides: Medicare Advantage 2022 update, developed by Dr. Ed Weisbart
- Podcast: “More like Medicare Disadvantage, AMIRITE?” featuring Dr. Susan Rogers
- NYT article: “The Cash Monster Was Insatiable: How Insurers Exploited Medicare Advantage for Billions”
Medicare’s open enrollment period only lasts through Dec. 7, so now is the time to write your op-ed or letter to the editor. Consider using the following talking points when writing about this complicated issue:
- Medicare Advantage is only able to offer low premiums and out-of-pocket caps by delaying or denying care on the back end, and by discouraging the sickest patients from enrolling.
- Medicare Advantage allows seniors to choose their health plan, but it restricts the much more crucial choice of doctor and hospital by using narrow provider networks.
- Commercial health insurers will never be satisfied with even their current, outrageous profits. Starting in January, the REACH program will allow many of these same companies to “manage” the care of seniors who have declined to participate in Medicare Advantage.
- So long as we allow profit-seekers to control our health, they will deny us care, stick us with exorbitant costs, and keep the lion’s share for themselves. The only true solution to our country’s health care problem is Medicare for All, but if we allow corporations to take over Medicare, we will never see it achieved.
If you have any questions or would like advice on your op-eds and letters, please reach out to our Communications Specialist, Gaurav Kalwani, at email@example.com. If writing isn’t your preferred method of engagement, consider using this toolkit as a basis for a presentation to colleagues, conversation with community members, or relationship-building exercise with local organizations. Any way we can get the message out will help move our cause forward.
At this crucial juncture, we must make our voices heard and stop the capture of Medicare by corporate profiteers. We can only do this if we all speak up, and speak as one.