To the editor:
Under the headline “Insurers game Medicare system to boost federal bonus payments,” The Wall Street Journal reported on March 11 a practice called “cross-walking,” where insurance companies routinely shift millions of seniors in lower-rated Medicare Advantage plans to higher-rated plans so that the insurance companies might benefit from subsidies that the federal governments pays to higher-rated plans.
Sounds good, but the seniors are led to believe they will get higher value. In fact, they pay more and gain nothing in care — while insurance companies get more of our tax money to augment already record-breaking profits.
Apparently all the major insurance players participate in this “cross-walking” charade. The Wall Street Journal gave particular attention to Humana. When Humana got caught “cross-walking” seniors from Medicare plans that pay Humana less to those that give seniors less and pay Humana more, share prices plunged 5 percent — $1.4 billion drop in market capitalization.
But share prices recovered completely upon news of increased enrollment in more profitable plans — that is, “cross-walking” 1.27 million seniors.
Staggering numbers from the actuarial cons gaming the system.
Executive bonuses were safe, but taxpayers and seniors were not. Humana alone netted $600 million from taxpayer coffers this year — to enrich the top 1 percent, some of the top 20 percent, and certainly no seniors who will pay more for actuarially less. These plans are, in fact, more expensive for 90 percent of enrolled seniors — and far more expensive for the taxpayer.
“Cross-walking” creates substantial revenues for the insurance companies, basically funding earnings and executive compensation, thereby making health insurance one of the most profitable sectors in the United States.
Capitalism at its finest? Hardly.
The New York Health Act would improve Medicare without squandering tax money, will expand benefits to all New Yorkers, while costing seniors less — rechanneling health care dollars for health, not for rapacious corporations.
New York Health — at NYHCampaign.org — is close to passing, needing only one senator for a majority, having already passed the Assembly repeatedly and overwhelmingly.
Our lives. Our money. Call Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz at (718) 796-5345, and Sen. Jeff Klein at (718) 822-2049, and inform them of added arguments to solidify their already pledged sponsorships of A.B. 4738 and S.B. 4840.
Tell them we want to see the New York Health Act pass soon.
Farris M. Thomas Jr.