Wednesday, September 23, 2009

White House, Congressional Dems and AARP Conspire to Keep Seniors From Truth about Medicare Advantage Cuts

The AP reported yesterday the Department of Health and Human Services is investigating Humana at the urging of Senator Max Baucus for daring to inform their beneficiaries of impending cuts to their Medicare Advantage programs. Baucus accuses Humana of misleading seniors:
"It is wholly unacceptable for insurance companies to mislead seniors regarding any subject — particularly on a subject as important to them, and to the nation, as health care reform," Baucus said Monday, disclosing the HHS investigation.
Were there such a  charge as misleading seniors, who was actually doing the misleading?  President Obama denied cuts to Medicare Advantage would result in loss of coverage in his interview with George Stephanopoulos this past Sunday.  A CBO analysis released this evening, however, contradicts the Presidents claim.   Director Elmendorf  states the changes "would reduce the extra benefits that would be made available to beneficiaries through Medicare Advantage plans."  The White House and Congressional Dems appear to have been heavily invested in keeping this information from the seniors who would take substantial cuts in their benefits.

According to a report in The Wall Street Journal , GOP  leaders are calling the investigation nothing more than a gag order. states Humana was actually  in violation of a White House edict preventing insurers from communicating with their beneficiaries, an edict which applied to all but one organization, the AARP:

Yet the Administration's edict prohibiting plans from communicating with their beneficiaries failed to include AARP, which sponsors a Medicare Advantage plan but has been a prime advocate of Democrats' government takeover of health care-quite possibly because AARP has been supporting a health care overhaul from which it stands to gain overall handsomely. Even as AARP advocates for cutting Medicare Advantage plans by more than $150 billion, an analysis of the organization's operations reveals that it stands to receive tens of millions of dollars at the expense of seniors' medical care-with Democrats' full approval. explains how AARP  will benefit from the cuts to Medicare Advantage at the expense of the seniors they purport to represent:

Because the government-run Medicare benefit is less generous than most private health plans, the independent Medicare Payment Advisory Commission found in June that more than nine in ten seniors not in nursing home settings utilize some form of Medicare supplemental insurance. While many of these individuals currently rely on Medicare Advantage plans for the extra benefits they provide to seniors, many would be forced to purchase supplemental Medigap policies should their existing Medicare Advantage plans be taken away from them due to Democrats' government takeover of health care.
Michelle Malkin  elaborates on this, citing the explanation from a Hill source who also suggests seniors fare better under Medicare Advantage plans while the plans also achieve greater efficiencies and savings.  Be sure to read her entire post where she lists the complete case laid out by in addition to the explanation from the Hill source.  Further evidence the AARP is no stranger to selling out the seniors they represent can be found in a December article by Gary Cohn and Darrell Preston on Bloomberg.comPhillip Klein at The American Spectator has an emailed response from the AARP that fails to address specific charges, choosing instead to hide behind claims of scare tactics and "death panels."

Clearly the White House, Congressional Democrats and the AARP have made a concerted effort to keep the seniors who stand to lose substantial benefits in the dark until legislation is passed.  The absurd investigation of Humana suggests there are no limits to the means they will use to achieve that end.   This is far from the transparent process then candidate Obama promised health care reform would be.  Set aside the promises of hearings shown on CSpan that never materialized, gag orders and cozy agreements with AARP can only be the tip of the "dirty little secrets" iceberg.   Each new revelation should give any of the 43% who still support this debacle more than a moments pause to wonder what's next.

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