cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
Considering there were to be no changes for Medicare recipients under Obama Care, the release of the information that follows was quite a surprise:
“Peter Ashkenaz, deputy director of media affairs at the U.S. Health and Human Services department of Medicare and Medicaid services, confirmed that as of Jan. 1, people enrolled in Medicare Advantage will have 45 days of open enrollment ‘to return to the fee-for-service program’. But, he added, users will not be able to switch to another Medicare Advantage plan, as they have been able to do for the past decade.”
The Administration has made no pretense of liking the Medicare Advantage program but there was no indication that, so long as insurers were willing to provide the plans, participants would not be able to choose from any of the offered plans each year as has always been the case. Some 25% of all seniors on Medicare had opted into one of these plans through last year.
The next change is one of those “gotcha” things. A drug that has been available to end-stage breast cancer patients whose lives were extended as the result has been eliminated from the list of available drugs because it is too costly. The people who might have gained several additional months of life will now be permitted to exit this world sooner; but it will save some money and that seems to have become the most important criterion.
This is in keeping with the “comparative effectiveness” program that the newly named Dr. Donald Berwick is so favorably disposed toward.
These are early indications of where the new Obama Care plan will take us as the years roll past. People do not really believe that their medicines might no longer be available or that some treatment regimens will be eliminated due to cost/effectiveness decision trees. These kinds of things were greatly downplayed by now-President Obama as he extolled the virtues of his grand scheme for health care for everyone.
The truth is beginning to show itself, and I wonder just how well these truths will be received? This is just the very beginning of the trip we’ll each be taking down the road of government-managed health care. For example, there is now open conversation about some large hospitals and nursing homes actually withdrawing from the Medicare services field due to the reduced reimbursements that will be forthcoming in the future. This was originally posited by Richard S. Foster, the chief actuary of the Medicare service.