Who Is Protecting Seniors?

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Ads have been running on TV paid for by the Coalition to Protect Seniors, Inc., which state that people on Medicare should oppose health care reform because it will take away $445 million in Medicare benefits.  Our law firm works very hard to protect seniors, and we have studied the Affordable Care Act, and we do not think that it will harm people who are receiving Medicare benefits.  In fact, we see improvements to Medicare in the Act.

In an article in the New York Times on Sunday, October 3, 2010, reporter Mike McIntire tried to find out who indeed was the Coalition to Protect Seniors.  He tried all sorts of methods that are available to us.  He googled.  He tracked down corporate filings.  He made many phone calls.  This organization is like many we are seeing these days.  He found that it is a nonprofit.  It is not required to publish who provides it with its funding.  It can spend money publicizing issues, but is not supposed to advocate for any particular political candidate.  There is no requirement that it tell the truth.

Mr. McIntire’s sleuthing took him finally to a company called K&M Insurance in Florida, which is a broker for seven large health insurance companies, including Aetna, Blue Cross, Humana and United Healthcare.  They said that they did not know who was supplying the money behind this nonprofit.  I looked at one of the ads being run by this group, in which a baby says that the new health care bill is going to take money away from his grandpa’s Medicare.  Across the bottom of the ad run the names of the companies that might be affected, Aetna, Humana, Secure Horizons, Blue Cross and Evercare.  I think there is a connection.

Why would these health insurance companies be spending money secretly to attack health care reform provisions pertaining to Medicare?  It would not be because the Act requires health insurers to stop denying coverage to children with pre existing conditions, because generally children are not on Medicare.  It would not be because health insurers must stop putting financial caps on how much they will cover, because Medicare does not have such limits.  Is it that the Act calls for MORE services to be available to Medicare participants, such as one annual visit to the doctor for preventative checkups to be covered?  Is it because in 2014, folks who have incomes above $250,000 will pay slightly more for their Medicare premiums?  Why would health insurance companies care about that?

Maybe it is the requirement that goes into effect January 1, 2011, that requires any health care provider that collects premiums, such as Medicare Advantage programs, to show that at least 85% of those premiums are spent on delivering medical services, and not on profit, advertising, executive salaries, or even funding nonprofits.  Maybe that is it.  It is hard to know when the debate takes place behind closed doors.