Saturday, April 2, 2011

Death by Medicaid: Please sign our petition to take away Wall Street's license to kill

One death is already too many. Wall Street can no longer be allowed to make life-or-death health decisions for children, the elderly, and adults as well as children with disabilities.

Please sign our petition to stop federal Medicaid and Medicare dollars being paid to for-profit corporations.

Roughly one-seventh of the total federal outlay for Medicaid and Medicare was paid to companies that brag about spending as little as possible of each Medicaid or Medicare dollar on actual patient services. The 13.7 million Americans who now receive Medicaid through one of nine publicly trade corporations used to receive their services through state-run plans that paid the actual medical bills incurred, a system called "fee for service."

When a "fee for service" budget is handed over to a private insurer, the companies are under no legal obligation to pay out any minimum percentage in actual services. When a company such as UnitedHealth reports paying less than eighty cents out of every dollar, it means that the person with disabilities whose budget it is has had their medical costs cut by an average of twenty percent.

Long-term medications are suddenly denied payment. One young adult I know has had twenty-two medications denied payment since January and now requires dialysis.

Nursing services are abruptly cut, with no consideration to medical needs. UnitedHealth has mounted an offensive war against parents here in Hawaii, bullying and trying to coerce families into agreeing to cuts in home services. We're being accused of being bad parents somehow if we can't be professional nurses at the same time.

The $19.5 billion in off-the-top profit from Medicaid and Medicare managed care contracts received by nine companies I tracked could have been used to pay for more than just CEO salaries. For example, two companies that only offer federal Medicaid/Medicare programs, Amerigroup and Centene, paid out $5.5 million and $7.1 million respectively to their CEOs in 2009.

UnitedHealth tried to explain away 2010's skyrocketing profits by saying it was because people didn't have the money for copayments, so they weren't going to the doctor. But commercial premium revenue was up only one percent: the company's twenty-one percent increase in net earnings was tied more closely to the 24% increase in Medicaid and 12% increase in Medicare premium revenue, combined with a two percent reduction in the Medical Loss Ratio (MLR).

Every penny saved against that MLR, the percentage of the capitated fee received that is actually spent on medical services, exacts a human toll. These capitated fees are received to provide people whose special health care needs put them at risk of death or institutionalization with the services and medications they need to stay healthy and alive with their families.

The little boy that died here is not the first victim of Wall Street greed in the guise of Medicaid. Sworn testimony was presented to Hawaii State Senate leaders more than a year ago that the death rate among the elderly and disabled had gone up 36% in the first year after UnitedHealth and Wellcare took over the contracts. A list of names surfaced, and reportedly families were visited by either the FBI or DoJ.

But if he's not the first, he needs to be the last.

Please sign our petition, and forward to your friends.

No comments:

Post a Comment

About Me

My photo
I'm the mom of a child with disabilities. Hannah's first neurologist said she might never develop beyond the level of a 2 month old infant, and there wasn't anything I could do about it. The brain damage was just too severe. Nine years later, she walks, uses a touchscreen computer and I've just been shown she can learn to construct sentences and do simple math with the right piece of technology. Along the way, I discovered I needed to teach myself what Hannah's rights to services really were. Learning about early intervention services led to reading about IDEA and then to EPSDT. I've been waiting for the Obama administration to realize the power and potential of EPSDT for the medical rights - including the right to stay at home with their families - of children with disabilities. The health reform people talk about long term care, and the disability people talk about education and employment, but nobody is talking about EPSDT. So I am.