Healthcare Leadership Council: Raise Medicare age to 67 and charge seniors more

Yesterday afternoon, I received and email/newsletter from a very large insurance company that linked to a press release titled “Industry Seeks Savings from Medicare Beneficiaries”.

Here are some excerpts from the press release and my reaction to them:

Seeking to fend off larger cuts in federal medical spending, executives from big pharmaceutical, hospital and insurance companies are crafting their own plan to reduce the deficit which calls for wringing Medicare savings from beneficiaries, not just from hospitals and drug makers. 

Members of the Healthcare Leadership Council—which includes top executives from Pfizer Inc., Aetna Inc. and the Mayo Clinic—are expected to approve a proposal that would call for raising Medicare’s eligibility age and shifting the program toward private plans for beneficiaries. My reaction:  I can’t print it here – The idea of raising the eligibility age really gets my blood boiling.

The group plans to press members of the congressional “supercommittee,” charged with finding $1.2 trillion in budget savings, to include the changes in its broader cost-cutting plan. My reaction:  So lobbyists will play a big role in influencing the closed-door meetings of the Supercommittee??   Who will be representing seniors, whose average income is around $30,000 per year??

The council’s proposal is part of a larger effort inside the health industry to overhaul how lawmakers achieve savings from federal health programs. For years, Congress largely has relied on slicing payments to doctors and hospitals that treat Medicare beneficiaries to shrink spending in the program that insures 48 million elderly and disabled Americans.  My reaction: American doctors make hundreds of thousands of dollars per year – poor them. For-profit hospitals make profits, even with the cuts they have faced over the years. Pharmaceutical company profits are huge.

Frustrated at being the target, the health industry is pushing back, arguing that some of those savings should come directly from the pockets of Medicare beneficiaries.  My reaction: Let’s compare the percentage of an average senior’s income spent on the health care costs to the profits of the companies represented by this Healthcare Leadership Council.

……The health-industry council estimates its plan would save $410 billion over a decade. The central plank is reworking Medicare so that, starting in 2018, beneficiaries could either shop for a federally subsidized private insurance plan in a new Medicare-only exchange, or stay in traditional Medicare. My reaction:There’s that Ryan Plan again… that would “end Medicare as we know it”all so for-profit companies can make more money.

My Final Reaction: As I re-read this press release, it really seems like a joke or a prank. How can The Healthcare Leadership Council think their proposal would not be seen as garish and greedy?  And doesn’t it seem strange that they openly admit their highly-paid lobbyists will be all over the Supercommittee to stick it to seniors? Wow. This press release would be comical – if it weren’t serious.

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