Ballyhooing Medicare

Tait Trussell is a national award-winning writer, former vice-president of the American Enterprise Institute and former Washington correspondent for The Wall Street Journal.


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In an expensive, multi-faceted campaign, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is trying mightily to convince senior citizens that ObamaCare is full of “exciting new changes to improve your health care now and in the future.” HHS Secretary Sebelius has fretted, “We have a lot of re-education to do.”

The “re-education” campaign to change minds and sell Medicare and ObamaCare to highly skeptical seniors started last summer when HHS sent out a slick, four-color, four-page folder mailed first class to 40 million households with Medicare recipients. In that pitch, Sebelius claimed, “The Affordable Health Care Act (as it is erroneously but formally called) will provide you and your family greater savings and increased quality health care.”

In recent weeks, a promotional TV commercial features an aging Andy Griffith plugging ObamaCare and promising “More good things are coming” from the health law. The commercials cost $3 million to taxpayers. Poor Andy had a stroke not long ago.

Now a purportedly independent organization, called the Medicare Rights Center has sent out what it calls “A Resource for Journalists.” The seven-page packet is all about the fall open enrollment period, also known as the Annual Coordinated Election Period. It starts Nov. 15 and runs through the end of the year. During this period those on Medicare have the right to change their Medicare health and drug coverage options. Any changes they make will take effect on Jan. 1, 2011.

The Resource for Journalists takes a decidedly pro-ObamaCare viewpoint.  It explains that if a senior is considering a Medicare Advantage plan for 2011, “be aware that if you become unhappy with your MA plan, you have the option to switch to Original Medicare during the MADP.” MADP stands for Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period. The Medicare private health plan market, the guide says, has been “streamlined.” That’s a euphemism for torpedoed. The liberal Democrats who drafted the health law cut the Medicare Advantage program by $136 billion over the next decade, even as health cost rise. The Medicare actuaries predict the cuts will cause enrollment to drop by 50 percent.

Many companies that have offered Medicare Advantage plans are making major adjustments, including having to raise premiums or increasing seniors’ deductibles. Some are even being driven out of business. Why was MA slashed? Because it has given about one in four seniors private insurance options with added choices. “Private” and “choice” are odious ideas in the leftist mindset. Command and control by bureaucracy feels just right to them.

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  • stephencuz

    Although I currently am able to buy my own health care insurance policy, I fear this option will be forcibly removed from the table in order to ensure EVERYONE comes under the direct management of the Federal Government…eventually. This MUST be overturned. We all see a need for reform but it should be done thoughtfully and incrementally. There are changes that should be made post haste but the majority of the changes can be phased in after exhaustive study concludes they are cost effective and tax neutral. Already my premiums and deductibles have gone up. As I tell my daughters; If you think it is expensive now, wait until it’s free!