Tell your parents: Trump is lying to them about Medicare

The Center for Medicare Advocacy, Justice in Aging, and the Medicare Rights Center have issued a joint statement condemning the 2018 edition of Medicare & You, the annual guide published by the federal government; the groups say that the Trump administration is lying to seniors in order to trick them into switching to privatized, HMO-run Medicare Advantage programs, away from the superior, publicly maintained Meidcare system.

First, in several places, the Handbook suggests that Medicare Advantage is the less expensive alternative for beneficiaries. This is an overstatement. There are many variables determining whether enrollment in a M edicare Advantage plan may be more or less expensive for any particular Medicare beneficiary. Factors including premiums, co – payment structure, available providers, the individual's medical needs, etc. all can affect the relative affordability of Medicare Advantage generally as well as the affordability of any particular Medicare Advantage plan. The repeated suggestion that Medicare Advantage can save beneficiaries money does not fairly and fully represent these realities.

Moreover, in numerous descriptions, the Handbook fails to make clear a key distinction between Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage: Original Medicare provides access to all Medicare participating providers nationwide, while Medicare Advantage limits access to a set network of providers in a specific geographic area.

Even more problematic is the treatment of prior authorization requirements in Medicare Advantage. On both page 6 and page 62, the Handbook attempts to paint this restriction on access to services as a benefit, rather than as what it is, a mandatory hurdle for Medicare Advantage members that is not required for individuals in Original Medicare. On page 62, the Handbook goes so far as to describe prior authorization as a "right" that people in Original Medicare "can't get." Describing a restriction as a "right" and then saying that people who are not subject to this restriction are disadvantaged twists the facts beyond recognition.

Senior advocates say new draft guide to Medicare distorts facts. Here's what you need to know [Philip Moeller/PBS Newshour]

(via Naked Capitalism)