The nation must stop health insurance companies from defrauding senior citizens, presidential candidate Barack Obama told residents in Des Moines on Friday.
The Illinois senator’s remarks came in response to a recent study and a government report that conclude Medicare’s private plan alternative – called Medicare Advantage – costs taxpayers more money, can increase premiums paid by seniors and, in some cases, has left people to find they do not have a doctor who accepts the coverage in their area.
The study, done by George Washington University professor Brian Biles, estimates that the average Medicare Advantage client will cost taxpayers $1,074 more in 2007.
The program was designed to reduced costs, largely through increased competition.
Medicare Payment Advisory Commission, an independent group that advises Congress, recently reported that the government pays 12 percent more on average to private Medicare plans than to treat comparable beneficiaries through traditional Medicare.
Elimination of excessive subsidies to the program would save nearly $150 billion in 10 years, which could improve total Medicare coverage and lower prescription drug costs, Obama said.
“The reason we don’t do something like that is because we are not setting the agenda in Washington – the insurance companies and the drug companies are,” Obama said. “And that’s what people want to turn the page on. They want a system that’s sensible and fair to everybody.”
And now subsidies, coupled with a mandate are a silver bullet?