Congressional Democrats, worried that market-based health care reform is actually working, have been doing their best to throttle Medicare Advantage in the cradle. 

Last year, abetted by ”experts” who made the disingenuous claim that we had to choose between ”the kids” and the insurance companies, the Dems tried to use SCHIP expansion as a pretext for killing MA.

When their SCHIP scam failed, they floundered around for a while but eventually came up with their latest load of BS—that we have to choose between MA and adequate physcian reimbursement.

This theme has been picked up by the usual partisan hacks and even a few medical bloggers who normally don’t fall for this stuff. However, like the SCHIP gambit, the “MA versus the docs” meme is based on a canard.

The party line on MA is that it is vastly more expensive than traditional Medicare.  This is based on bogus studies by the Commonwealth Fund, et al. The Galen Institute provides the following reality check:

CMS estimates that if one is only measuring the equivalent cost of delivering Part A and B services alone, MA plans are paid 2.8 percent more than the cost of traditional Medicare.

This is a far cry from the 12% figure routinely promulgated by the “news” media and allegedly non-partisan policy wonks. Either way, it has nothing to do with physician reimbursement cuts by Medicare.

The Democrats have attached the MA controversy to the physician pay issue in a transparent (and apparently successful) attempt to co-opt the AMA in their ongoing plot to kill market-based Medicare reform.

Meanwhile, MA is wildly popular with minority and low-income seniors because of its lower co-pays and the increased primary care access that the program provides in rural and other underserved areas.

The Democrats want to slash MA funding for reasons having nothing to do with physician pay or insurance company profits. They want to kill Medicare Advantage because it is working.

Comments 1

  1. A Carroll wrote:

    Depends on your definition of “working.” Alarmingly, neither this blog nor Laszewski even mentions the most important criteria for evaluating whether a public policy that transfers public funds to the private sector (for reasons OTHER than ideology or party line) is “working”: outcomes and impact (i.e., are you getting what you’re paying for?). All of the research says “NO,” including comparisons with regular Medicare. No definition of “efficiency” or “effectiveness” could justify this program, whatever the ideology. Merely claiming that an overpayment is 2.8% instead of 12% still begs the question. Why should the taxpayer subsidize overpayments to any industry anyway, especially for poor service. People drop their car mechanics for reasons such as these.

    Posted 06 Jul 2008 at 1:48 pm

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