MEDICARE HMOs: Antioch Senior Rallies for More Federal Funding
Scores of seniors will rally today in Washington, D.C., to lobby lawmakers to allocate more funds to Medicare HMO programs, the Contra Costa Times reports. Among them will be Antioch senior Kenneth Radtke, who will represent 16,421 other Contra Costa County members of PacifiCare's Secure Horizons' Medicare+Choice program. Radtke, who has been in the HMO for seven years, said he is "a true believer" in the program. But recent Medicare cutbacks have forced Medicare+Choice to start charging a $20 monthly premium, he argued, noting, "The actual cost of health care went up 6% a year, but Congress, in its infinite wisdom, set the (cost-of-living) increase for Medicare each year at 2%. HMOs have to show a profit, and, in ours, the profit is reinvested." But Jamie Court of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights said today's rally is "an attempt by HMOs to blackmail the government and taxpayers to give them more. It's the HMOs themselves who are forcing the patients to pay more." He added that HMOs were not getting paid enough in rural counties, so "[h]undreds of thousands of seniors were left high and dry when HMOs left." However, PacifiCare spokesperson Tyler Mason said, "For the most part, [the HMO] stuck to every area where [it's] been in business." Radtke's traveling expenses are being paid for by the American Association of Health Plans (Lovejoy, 5/17).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.