President's Forum

by Bill Kadereit, President, NRLN

We are committed to keeping you informed about your retiree benefits, pension funds, medical and drug costs and the truth about Medical Advantage Plans. This column features a current topic on these issues.

NRLN Presidents Forum – New NRLN Video/Podcast

The NRLN has launched its 2022 Video/Podcast Series 2, Episode 1. titled – Medicare Privatization and Direct Contracting.  We address how Medicare Advantage (MA) private plans have led us Direct Contracting (DC), the latest major threat to Medicare. Wall Street is moving to takeover Medicare

Check back for Dates and Times of upcoming episodes

I am joined for the presentation by Diane Archer; founder and President of Just Care USA, who has spent her entire career advocating for consumers; Jim Bodenner, a retired attorney and former owner of a 47 bed Home for the Aged in Rockford, MI who is currently President of the NRLN Villages Chapter executive team; Ed Beltram, NRLN vice president – communications.

Early in the Video/Podcast I cite a 2018 quote by Warren Buffet, “The ballooning costs of health care acts as a hungry tapeworm on the American Economy.” That tapeworm has morphed into a piranha called privatization of Medicare.

Medicare Advantage has not reduced healthcare costs and Direct Contracting, the latest innovation by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, may be an even bigger disaster.

Over $40 billion of our personal tax payments dollars subsidized Medicare Advantage plan insurance companies in 2021. Medicare Trustees forecast that phony cost-sharing bonuses and rebates will cost Americans $100.8 billion in 2030.

We must convince Congress and the White House to abandon this Wall Street takeover of Medicare and instead declare war on healthcare costs.

Ed comments are on a December 14 article in The Intercept which shed light on the political conniving and money interests involved in the creation of Direct Contracting. Here are a few revelations from the article:

  • Late in the Trump administration, Direct Contracting, a Medicare privatization scheme was set up by Adam Boehler, a director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, also known as CMMI.
  • Boehler was a former dorm-mate of Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law.
  • The Office of the General Counsel for the Health and Human Services Department warned that it appeared as if the Direct Contracting was being set up to benefit specific companies.

You will gain more insights into how Direct Contracting emerged by reading the article posted at: http://www.nrln.org/direct-contracting-medicare-under-attack/  

Most of the rest of the video/podcast is a dialogue of Ed, Jim and I asking Diane questions about Direct Contracting. Among the key point from Diane are:

  • The government is assigning people involuntarily to a Medicare Advantage-like health plan, taking away their Medicare choice and putting insurers between them and their doctors.
  • Over time, if not stopped, this Direct Contracting experiment would end traditional Medicare, which is government-administered, and turn all of Medicare over to insurers and investors.
  • Just like Medicare Advantage plans, Direct Contracting Entities—insurers and investors—are paid a flat rate per enrollee regardless of the number or cost of services they deliver. They therefore have a financial incentive to delay and deny care.
  • We know now DCEs could endanger the health of those 40 million people in traditional Medicare. Unless we can stop this DC effort your health could be at risk.
  • Direct Contracting, as designed, is not an experiment. it’s a wholesale radical transformation of Medicare. Can it save money, can it improve quality? We already have all the evidence we need from Medicare Advantage that it will cost us more and likely decrease quality. But the government is rolling out this experiment in traditional Medicare anyway and it will likely take over Medicare if not stopped or severely limited.

Near the end of the presentation. I ask Please go to www.nrln.org IMMEDIATELY AFTER THIS PODCAST and click on the Respond to Action Alert link (on the red bar) and email the prepared letters to President Biden and their Representative and Senators to demand they kill Direct Contracting that would destroy Medicare.

I closed the presentation saying, our next video/podcast will reveal what we have discovered, how seniors in Medicare are kept in the dark about best prices available when shopping for Medigap plans.

Watch for notices of dates, times and subject content on www.nrln.org.

Send your feedback on the presentation to contact@nrln.org.

Bill Kadereit, President
National Retiree Legislative Network

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NRLN Podcast | Wallstreet's Takeover of Medicare!

AREF Supporting NRLN’s Efforts to Stop Direct Contacting from Destroying Medicare

The American Retirees Education Foundation is doing research in support of the NRLN’s efforts to stop Direct Contracting from destroying Medicare. The AREF is launching this week its annual appeal for donations to support its work.

If you believe the example of AREF’s work identified below is worthy of a tax-deductible donation from you, we would like for you to please click here. https://www.seniorsaref.org/donations.html

AREF turned up a December 14, 2021, opinion piece in The Washington Post with the title:

Trump had a scheme to privatize Medicare. The Biden administration isn’t stopping it.

At issue is a Trump administration-initiated program that many health-care reformers argue is essentially a backdoor attempt to further privatize Medicare. Almost no one realizes it’s going on — except, that is, corporate interests and private equity investors, who are lined up like pigs at the trough to get their hands on taxpayer dollars.

Click here to read op-ed

AREF’s scanning on Direct Contracting found a December 9, 2021, opinion piece in The Hill newspaper. The headline was:

The biggest threat to Medicare you’ve never even heard of

Millions of seniors are quietly being enrolled into a program run by third-party middlemen called Medicare Direct Contracting Entities (DCEs). This is occurring without their full knowledge or consent. (There are currently 53 Direct Contracting Entities in 38 states. More are expected to be rolled out in January 2022.)


Direct Contracting “should be stopped in its tracks by the Biden administration.

Click here to read op-ed.

AREF discovered a November 30, 2021, an in-depth article on the CommonDreams website. It reported that a group of physicians would rally at HHS and present petitions opposing Direct Contracting. 

Click here to read article. 

With your financial support, the AREF will continue to its research and the education of retirees in support of NRLN’s opposition to Direct Contracting. Watch for NRLN / AREF January podcast about DCEs.  

Stop New Plan to Destroy Medicare

Respond to the NRLN Action Alert to tell President Biden and your members of Congress to stop the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ dangerous action to destroy Medicare through Direct Contracting.

Direct Contracting Entities (DCE) are aimed at the 41 million in original Medicare and even the 24.9 million in Medicare Advantage (MA). The Health Affairs publication reported there are 53 DCE pilot programs in 38 states and 23 are investor owned. A second wave of DCEs are expected to be announced in January 2022.

NRLN Useful Links

These links are provided as a source of potentially useful information for members.  

If you have ideas for other links, please share them with the NRLN through an email to contact@nrln.org or call toll free 1-866-360-7197.

Clicl any link below to ge to that category.

PHARMA CONTRIBUTIONS TO CONGRESS

How much did your U.S. Representatives and Senators take as campaign contributions from the Pharmaceutical and Health Products Industry for their recent election campaigns and the current 2019-20 one? Could this be a reason why bills to reduce the price of prescription drugs are not being passed?

To see data that the NRLN has compiled from OpenSecrets.Org, Center for Responsive Politics, CLICK THE BUTTON BELOW.

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In the News

The articles and opinion pieces below are for information and are not necessarily a reflection of the NRLN’s position on issues.

The NRLN is nonpartisan and its positions on retirement issues are presented in its Legislative Agenda and white papers that can be accessed from the Legislative Agenda tab HERE.

The Drug Industry Might Have Dodged A Build Back Better Bullet But Remains In Congressional Crosshairs From Rita Numerof; Forbes  ~ Jan 17, 2022

Opinion: Aging in place can be a nightmare if you’re not properly prepared From Richard Connor; MarketWatch ~  Jan 15, 2022

Americans Can Order Free Rapid Covid-19 Tests from Website on Jan. 19 By Andrew Restuccia & Brianna Abbott; The Wall Street Journal ~ Jan 14, 2022

Many Hospitals Are Getting Overwhelmed. It’s a Crisis That Could Affect Healthcare for Years to Come. By Josh Nathan-Kazis; Barron’s ~ Jan 14, 2022

White House To Provide Free ‘High-Quality’ N95 Masks To The Public Via KHN Morning Briefing; Kaiser Health News ~  Jan 14, 2022

U.S. Supreme Court blocks Biden vaccine-or-test policy for large businesses By Lawrence Hurley & Andrew Chung; Reuters ~ Jan 13, 2022

Financial Literacy Shortfall Imperils Secure Retirement, Experts Tell Congress

By Kenneth Corbin; Barron’s ~ Jan 13, 2022

Biden Administration’s Covid Strategy Questioned During Edgy Senate Hearing Via KHN Morning Briefing; Kaiser Health News ~  Jan 12, 2022

2021 was the ‘most challenging year’ for taxpayers. 2022 could be worseBy Chris Morris; Fortune ~ Jan 12, 2022

Biden health team weighs new mask distribution plan By David Lim & Adam Cancryn; Politico ~ Jan 11, 2022

Medicare Proposes to Cover Aduhelm Only for Patients in Clinical Trials By Pam Belluck; The New York Times ~  Jan 11, 2022

Home COVID tests to be covered by insurers starting SaturdayBy Zeke Miller; The Associated Press ~ Jan 10, 2022

Medicare told to reassess premium hike for Alzheimer’s drug By Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar; The Associated Press ~ Jan 10, 2022

Medicare Decision On Aduhelm Looms, Triggering Worries Over Funding Via KHN Morning Briefing; Kaiser Health News ~  Jan 10, 2022

US hospitals letting infected staff members stay on the job By Adriana Gomez Licon & Jennifer Mcdermott; The Associated Press ~ Jan 10, 2022

Opinion: Social Security And Medicare Benefit Changes For 2022 And Beyond From Tom R. Hager; Forbes  ~ Jan 10, 2022

Hospitals Recruit International Nurses to Fill Pandemic Shortages By Nick Ehli; Kaiser Health News ~ Jan 07, 2022

Biden pursues Trump plan that creates big profits by denying health care By Diane Archer, AlterNet – Jan 8, 2022

Moderna CEO Says People Will Likely Need A Fourth Covid Shot By This Fall Via KHN Morning Briefing; Kaiser Health News ~  Jan 07, 2022

Opinion: Why Social Security Will Survive From John F. Wasik; Forbes  ~ Jan 05, 2022

Prices Jump 5% For 2022 On More Than 450 Prescription Drugs Via KHN Morning Briefing; Kaiser Health News ~  Jan 04, 2022

Opinion: A year of hospital price transparency offers hope for affordable care From Ge Bai & John Xuefeng Jiang; The Hill ~ Jan 04, 2022

Established pension plans aren’t dying – they’re thriving, one study says By Alessandra Malito; MarketWatch ~  Jan 03, 2022

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