Act Surprised: Private Insurers Abuse Bush Medicare Drug Plan

Once again, privatization of what should be government’s responsibility proves that privatization is really about avoiding any responsibility.

The New York Times reports:

Tens of thousands of Medicare recipients have been victims of deceptive sales tactics and had claims improperly denied by private insurers that run the system’s huge new drug benefit program and offer other private insurance options encouraged by the Bush administration, a review of scores of federal audits has found.

Shocking, yes. Private insurers play parlor games with people’s lives, because their only concern is profit. This is about so much more than the mere outrage of these specific vultures preying on the vulnerable. This is, once again, the Conservative ideology revealed for what it is: greed, cruelty, and social blight.

The problems, described in 91 audit reports reviewed by The New York Times, include the improper termination of coverage for people with H.I.V. and AIDS, huge backlogs of claims and complaints, and a failure to answer telephone calls from consumers, doctors and drugstores.

Nothing to add, there. Except maybe a question: is improperly denying coverage to people with H.I.V and AIDS a crime against humanity? Are war crimes, alone, deserving of that appelation?

Since March, 11 companies have been fined by Medicare. Among them are three of the largest Medicare insurers- UnitedHealth, Humana and WellPoint.

The audits document widespread violations of patients’ rights and consumer protection standards. Some violations could directly affect the health of patients – for example, by delaying access to urgently needed medications.

But rest assured- HHS Secretary Michael O. Leavitt says the plan is saving seniors money. Presumably those who haven’t died, because they were denied the drugs they needed.

Industry execs make the excuses you would expect, but the Times lists the companies and the reasons they were cited.

David A. Lipschutz, of the non-profit California Health Advocates, gets to the bottom line- the bottom line. Explaining that the system still encourages predatory practices:

“Every enrollee in a private Medicare plan is a potential source of substantial profits,” Mr. Lipschutz said.

Exactly. Because large for-profit insurers are only in it for the profits. This needs be emphasized, again and again, because it is the moral black hole at the center of Republicanism: the Republican Party is the champion of Big Business, not people. And to their masters the Republicans will sacrifice as many people as is necessary.


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  1. I write over and over and over again how Michael Leavitt is a true Bush partisan hack.  He ran a bogus blog earlier this summer called the Pandemic Flu Leadership blog, which was really an Ogilvy Inc marketing firm stunt.  DemFromCT AKA Dr. Greg Dworkin, served as a “guest” panelist, and he was used, abused and thoroughly defrauded by Leavitt and one of his water bloys, Admiral (Dr.) John Agwunobi, who spun lies and misinformaiton and undermined Greg’s work and the work of the flu Wiki and other online-based pandemic flu and emergency preparedness groups.

    I was so disgusted that my comments critical of this charade were not posted by Ogilvy, that I posted a refutation on my old blog.  I got daily hits from HHS, OSD (Pentagon), and Ogilvy, not to mention FDA and CDC hits. 

    The Medicare Advantage program is a direct undermining of Medicare.  It places Medicare funds directly in the hands of private, for profit insurance agencies without oversight and regulation and lets them loose on vulnerable seniors.

    As I’ve said over and over and over againl, the policies of the bush administration are to kill off the vulnerable to save costs – via denial of health care, the redeployment of injured and mentally ill soldiers back to front line extended assignments until they die or commit suicide, the astounding expansion of the criminal prison system, where now more than 50% of ALL in patient mental health care is delivered, the denial of mental health services to just about everyone except the extremely wealthy private pay patients, the failure to regulate and to assure the safety of the water and food supplies, the replacement of sound science with faith-based crap nonsense, which is really simply political patronage stamped with a cross and on and on.

    And even thought my blog has been left dormant for over a month, guess who’s visiting frequently now?  The Department of Homeland Security.

    Have a good read, DHS thugs.

    But what I can’t understand is how, given the expose of the state terrorism and torture programs revealed earlier this week, that there is so little discussion about that.  Understandable in the oppressed and bought off traditional media.

    But in the progressive blogosphere not to have any real outcry?

    We the frogs are boiled.

  2. United Health Care.
    I call them Guido’s health insurance.  Even after being sued under the RICO statues for systematically and methodically denying benefits and short changing doctors William McGuire retired with a 1.78 billion golden parachute package.

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