MEDICARE HMOS: State Senator Calls For Federal Action To Halt Withdrawals
State Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Daly City) introduced a resolution yesterday urging the government to assure an estimated 40,000 California Medicare HMO enrollees that they will have access to insurance after they lose their coverage at the end of this month. Speier, chair of the state Senate insurance committee, said HMOs will pull out of 36 counties, 11 of which will be left with no Medicare HMO alternative. She said the elderly "will still be able to obtain new coverage -- but it will cost far more, and there will be additional costs for prescription drugs." She accused the insurers of "examin[ing] their bottom line and decid[ing] to cherry-pick where they do business." But Walter Zelman, president of the California Association of Health Plans, said reports were exaggerated because only about 6,000 out of 1.4 million Medicare HMO enrollees will lose coverage. "That's hardly the disastrous kind of 'dumping' that people are talking about," he said. "No HMO wants to pull out of Medicare. Medicare is the biggest potential market in America," added Zelman. "While this is a problem, the blame doesn't really lie on the managed care industry. It lies with the unwillingness of Congress to adequately adjust the Medicare payments," he said (Howard, AP/San Francisco Chronicle, 12/17).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.