Monday, August 22, 2011

Medicare already 45% privatized, Medicaid could reach 30% by year's end

The privatization of Medicaid could hit 30% by the end of 2011. Medicare's privatization has already reached 45%.

The so-called Republican war on Medicare and Medicaid was already won a couple of years ago, and the battles waged so publicly now are, in large part, a public relations diversion.

What the Republicans, and apparently the President, don't want us to see is is the amount of government health care funds - between $2 billion and $5 billion every month - that this privatization has diverted to shareholder profits.

That money could be used instead to fund anywhere between 400,000 and 1 million full time jobs in local communities across the country. Every time one of these publicly-traded companies cuts the benefits it pays out, it means jobs have been lost as nurses, home attendants, adult day care, and a host of other local companies that provide equipment and services to the disability community. Meanwhile states have been able to cut their accounting, social work, quality control, regulation monitoring and other positions when the HMO takes over these jobs as part of its contract.

Figures published by the Commonwealth Fund, combined with Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) filings, show the percentage of people receiving Medicaid who are signed up through publicly traded HMOs has gone from 19.6% in 2009 to 27.1% as of June 30, 2011.

New contracts coming into play this year will add at least 1.7 million new people, bringing privatization to 29.8%. The Affordable Care Act is expected to raise Medicaid enrollment by 16 million by 2019, and the Commonwealth Fund concluded that "given recent patterns in state contract awards to managed care plans, it is reasonable to anticipate that plans operated by publicly traded companies will enroll the majority of the expanded Medicaid population."

Of the 47 million signed up for Medicare, 21 million are enrolled in publicly traded HMOs. When compared against the total population of just Medicare's managed care and stand-alone drug benefit, that 21 million becomes 71% of the total number of enrollees in those programs.

We obviously cannot count on our elected officials to stop this insidious process by themselves. They aren't even telling us about it. Please sign our petition demanding legislation to take private profits out of Medicaid and Medicare.

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About Me

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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.