From the Alliance for Retired Americans weekly newsletter:
Administration Threatens to Veto Medicare Bill That Does Not Protect Insurers
According to the Associated Press, the Bush administration is threatening to veto any legislation that protects doctors' Medicare payments at the expense of private insurers. Beginning on July 1, reimbursement rates for doctors will drop 10.6% when they treat older and disabled patients participating in Medicare. To keep that from happening, lawmakers are looking at finding at least $9 billion in savings from other Medicare programs over the next five years. Medicare Advantage private insurers are at the top of the list for Democrats and some Republicans to cut, since they receive generous government subsidies to serve their 9.5 million beneficiaries. The veto threat came in a May 22 letter to Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA) that was circulated Thursday on Capitol Hill. Sen. Max Baucus (D-MT) is overseeing the crafting of Medicare legislation on the Senate side. His spokeswoman noted that while the senator was aware of the administration's concerns, the government pays about 13% more for patients in Medicare Advantage than for comparable patients in traditional Medicare. “The Bush Administration is putting the interests of private insurers before those of seniors,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “Medicare beneficiaries need the doctor payment issue to be resolved quickly, and veto threats that protect corporate interests don’t move the ball forward.”
I've covered the Medicare Advantage scam here many times. Suffice to say, it's a racket that exists to pour tax dollars into the pockets of insurance companies. The Center on Budget Policy and Priorities has a ton of information about them here. The Senate's refusal to consider ending those overpayments to fund SCHIP is what helped to sink the needed expansion of that program. As of now, 468,466 kids have lost health care since that debacle. But screw'em. The insurance companies need that money to keep our health care system the very most bestest in the whole world. We should thank them.
It's no surprise that BushCo is fighting tooth and nail to preserve the system that hands out free money to the insurance industry but I thought you ought to know.
Call your Senator. What the hell, right?