Oh, of course they're opposing it! But let's remember these are the most conservative, corporate trade groups in health care. And really, the more they oppose the buy-in, the more likely it is that it's a good idea:
Groups representing doctors and hospitals are coming out against the inclusion of a Medicare "buy-in" in the Senate health bill, The Washington Post reports. The groups joined Republicans in arguing "that a plan by liberal Democrats to allow uninsured individuals as young as 55 to buy into Medicare would be financially untenable and would jeopardize access to health-care services for millions of Americans."
The organizations, including the American Hospital Association, the Federation of American Hospitals and the American Medical Association, said the proposal would hurt their members because Medicare pays providers at a lower rate than private insurers. "Hospital representatives said the idea also would violate a deal they reached with the White House this year to give up $155 billion in Medicare payments over the next decade. The concession helped to lower the cost of a health-care package that promised hospitals a pool of at least 30 million newly insured customers" (Murray and Montgomery, 12/10).
Personally, I think they should be grateful to have jobs when 20% of the country is out of work. But some people just have no discretion.
USA Today: "Though the idea gained traction on Capitol Hill — and got a boost from President Obama — the outcry from the medical groups underscored the difficulty lawmakers are facing as they look for compromises that can win broad support for the Senate's bill, which would cost $848 billion in the first 10 years. 'Bringing more people into a system that doesn't work very well is not a good answer,' said Jeffrey Korsmo, executive director of the Mayo Clinic Health Policy Center. 'The current Medicare program is not sustainable'" (Fritze, 12/10).
No, it isn't. But as soon as we stop the massive fraud and abuses in Medicare Part D (you know, the private-sector plan?), it'll be much better.
The New York Times: "The American Hospital Association issued an action alert on Tuesday urging its members to oppose the plan and to call their senators’ offices. ... The Federation of American Hospitals also issued a bulletin ... 'Any Medicare Buy-In would invariably lead to crowd out of the private health insurance market, placing more people into Medicare,' the group said. 'It is critical that you contact your Democratic Senators today!'" (Pear and Herszenhorn, 12/9).
So they admit they like it when fewer people can actually afford health care.
The Wall Street Journal: "The insurance industry's trade association, America's Health Insurance Plans, opposed the measure to fix companies' medical-loss ratios at 90%. Medical-loss ratios are closely watched measures of how many premium dollars companies spend on patient care versus administrative costs and profits." Insurers say it would be very difficult to reach and could hurt their abilities to "weed out fraud and run other programs designed to cut costs and improve wellness."
No, it's much better to have insurance companies knocking a half-million people at a shot off their rolls to keep the MLR low enough to pump up the stock. Okay, we've established what you are, we're only negotiating price.
Drug companies as well could see less money for medicines under the Medicare plan than what private insurers give them, the Journal reports (Johnson and Rockoff, 12/10).
Oh, boo hoo. See above comment about being grateful to have jobs.