Dishonesty, Intimidation, Hypocrisy and Medicare Advantage
by Newt Gingrich
The editorial writers at the New York Times thought they were getting the White House's back when they defended cuts to Medicare Advantage last week. In fact, they were validating the blatant dishonesty of administration and congressional officials pushing for the cuts. In their editorial last Sunday, the Times writers revealed in stunning fashion the lies that have been used to convince increasingly skeptical seniors that their Medicare Advantage benefits won't be sacrificed to pay for government-run health care.
In one breath, the Times claimed the effect of Medicare Advantage cuts will be "modest":
"Although Republican rhetoric has triggered fears that Medicare Advantage enrollees might lose their coverage entirely if private plans drop out of the system, the real effect of the bill would likely be modest on average."
Then, literally on the next line, the Times contradicts itself, and stumbles inadvertently on to the truth:
"The value of an enrollee's added benefits would shrink by more than half from current levels but would not disappear; they would still be worth about $500 a year in 2019 (emphasis added)."
Intimidation: Free Speech Rights of Insurance Companies Denied
Medicare Advantage was created to do what the Center for Health Transformation (CHT) has long fought for: To give all seniors more private choices of higher quality health care. It currently provides almost 11 million Americans coverage through private insurance plans. Recent data shows that these seniors have better health outcomes than those in traditional Medicare.
Current legislation in Washington will gut the program. H.R. 3200 in the House will cut Medicare Advantage by $172 billion. The bill sponsored by Sen. Max Baucus in the Senate will cut the popular program by $123 billion.
If you're just hearing about this now, here's the reason: When Humana (with whom we've worked with in the past at CHT) tried to inform its Medicare Advantage members that Democratic health care reform could lower their benefits, the government ordered them to cease and desist and opened an investigation of the company.
Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) subsequently introduced legislation in the Senate Finance Committee to protect the 1st Amendment rights of private insurance companies to criticize health care reform proposals.
Democrats on the committee unanimously defeated the bill.
But while Humana was censored by the government from talking to its Medicare Advantage enrollees about proposed Democratic cuts, another Medicare Advantage provider - the AARP - has been left free to lobby its members.
Of course the Washington leadership of the AARP is working closely with Democrats on health care reform. Incredibly, the self-appointed voice of America's seniors supports "reforms" that will cut the benefits - if not the entire Medicare Advantage coverage - of millions of seniors.
How can this be? It's simple. The AARP is a liberal interest group like any other, and it cut a deal with the party in charge in Washington. In exchange for selling out the seniors it claims to represent, the AARP will get potentially millions in lucrative insurance contracts, and quite possibly something more.
Tell Your Friends We're Not Going to Take It Anymore
No plan that has to be advanced through dishonesty, intimidation and hypocrisy has the support of the American people.
But all that is required for these tactics to prevail in Washington is for good people to sit back and do nothing.
As debate in Congress continues, here's what you can do: Send this newsletter to a friend, a co-worker, or a relative who isn't yet aware of what Washington is doing.
Send this newsletter to your senators and representatives. Let them know that, despite the dishonesty, the intimidation and the hypocrisy, we know what they're doing.
And we're not going to take it anymore.
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