Dear Mr. President: November 13, 2019
The 60 Plus Association has been advocating on senior’s behalf since 1992 and with 5 million senior supporters nationally we would like to bring an urgent and a critical matter to your attention. As you know, seniors are currently enrolling in Medicare insurance plans during the annual “open season.” Whether it’s Medigap plans to supplement traditional Medicare or it’s an integrated Medicare Advantage plan, seniors look first and foremost to the monthly insurance premiums they have to pay.
The good news is that insurance is currently affordable for most seniors. The bad news is that Big Insurance is threatening seniors with higher premiums in the future unless Congress enacts price controls on healthcare providers today. Insurance companies have lobbied Congress all year to enact price controls on doctors, hospitals, drug companies, technicians, and ambulance services–in part as their answer to the very real problem of “surprise billing.”
“Balance billing” or “surprise billing” is a very real problem where insurance companies, hospitals, and medical providers cannot work together to hold patients harmless from large and unexpected bills during hospital stays. The preferred fix of Big Insurance is not a market-based solution, but one where the government sets a low price Big Insurance gets to pay providers instead.
This price fixing will have devastating results for seniors. Providers getting paid a government set cut rate by Big Insurance will reduce their hours, retire, or otherwise provide fewer services for the patients who need them most–and that often means seniors. This scarcity means the government gets to decide which seniors get to live, and who doesn’t–death panels all over again.
Implicit (and sometimes explicit) in this Big Insurance lobbying campaign is the threat that if they do not get these price controls, insurance premiums will skyrocket. Make no mistake–if that happens, Big Insurance will point their fingers at Congress when seniors are looking for who to blame.
Mr. President, we know you are a friend of seniors and we are asking you to please stand up to Big Insurance. Tell them to stop threatening seniors with higher premiums. Insurance companies, hospitals, and providers need to work out a commonsense solution to surprise billing. Don’t let them off the hook from doing it by bailing out Big Insurance, a move which will lead inexorably to a new round of death panels.
James L. Martin
Saulius “Saul” Anuzis