Happy New Year!!
By President Ken McInnis
Thank you all again for your tireless work on the 2022 election. Your activism continues to make Minnesota the true “North Star” when it comes to ensuring retirees and our issues have friendly ears at the State Capitol.
Many bills have been proposed in the Minnesota Legislature to help us seniors to live a secure and dignified retirement. Things are moving fast at the Legislature. I urge you to keep abreast of that legislation, stay in touch with your legislator and let them know how proposed legislation will impact you. If you’re not receiving our emails regarding these issues, please contact us so we can add you to our friends email list.
It’s about this time of year that the America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) requests your Senator or Representative in Washington, D.C., sign a letter urging the Secretary of Health and Human Services to support the Medicare Advantage (MA) programs.
The Minnesota State Retiree Council, AFL-CIO, has sent a letter to Minnesota’s Congressional Delegation urging them NOT to sign the letter this year. Why you ask? What’s not to like about MA programs?
The boasts about Medicare Advantage (MA) in the letter are not true or are at best misleading.
The MA program and its predecessors were supposed to save money for Medicare without harming enrollees. That has never happened. The MA program has raised costs and harmed many enrollees by denying or delaying necessary services. It is true that MA plans usually cover more services than Congress permits the traditional Medicare program to cover, but the plans can do that because they are overpaid. The solution to the provision of better coverage by MA plans is not to continue the overpayments, but to stop the overpayments to MA plans and improve the coverage provided by traditional Medicare
Here's a statement from the Medicare Payment Advisory Commission's March 2022 Report to Congress (and a link): “The MA program has been expected to reduce Medicare spending since its inception—under the original incorporation of private plans in Medicare in 1985, payments to private plans were set at 95 percent of FFS payments—but private plans in the aggregate have never produced savings for Medicare, due to policies governing payment rates to MA plans that the Commission has found to be deeply flawed…. A major overhaul of MA policies is therefore urgently needed. [p 411]
Under current policies, as MA enrollment continues to grow, it will further worsen Medicare’s fiscal sustainability. It is imperative that the Congress and the Secretary make policy improvements.” [p 412] https://www.medpac.gov/wp-content/uploads/2022/03/Mar22_MedPAC_ReportToCongress_SEC.pdf
Given the current make-up of the U.S. Congress it’s doubtful that positive changes can be made to Medicare. Stay tuned for further developments.