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Deborah Ross Statement on 50th Anniversary of Start of Medicare

Press Release

By:
Date:
Location: Raleigh, NC

Deborah Ross, Democratic nominee for US Senate, released the following statement in recognition of tomorrow's 50-year anniversary of the start of Medicare:

"50 years ago today, America's seniors began receiving the affordable, high-quality health care benefits that they earned through a lifetime of hard work. Half a century later, some politicians in Washington want to fundamentally change Medicare by privatizing it and putting the insurance companies in charge. For example, Richard Burr has taken more than $1 million from insurance companies. In turn, he wrote a plan that would raise the retirement age, privatize Medicare, and give seniors a voucher that may or may not cover their health care costs. While this may help private insurers' profits, it will force seniors to pay more. North Carolina has my word that I will protect Medicare and stand up to the special interests that want to end it so they can profit off the backs of our seniors."

BACKGROUND:

BURR TOOK OVER $1 MILLION FROM INSURANCE COMPANIES

· Burr Has Received $1.1 Million From Insurance Interests. Over the course of his political career Burr has received a total of $1,129,864 from insurance industry interests. [opensecrets.org, accessed June 1, 2016]

BURR INTRODUCED A PLAN TO REFORM MEDICARE WHICH WOULD TURN IT INTO VOUCHERS AND RAISE THE ELIGIBILITY AGE

· 2012: Burr Unveiled His Own Medicare Voucher Plan, Similar To The Ryan Plan. "Two Republican senators unveiled a Medicare overhaulThursday that features an accelerated transition to private health insurance for many seniors, a gradual increase in the eligibility age, and higher premiums for middle-class and upper-income retirees. […] Like Ryan, Coburn and Burr would gradually raise the eligibility age to 67. But their plan also differs in several important ways. It would start the transition to a system dominated by private insurance plans in 2016 instead of waiting a decade, as Ryan has proposed. Private plans would compete with a government-sponsored program, a retooled version of today's Medicare. Seniors would get a fixed amount from the government which they could apply toward a private plan or the government plan modeled on Medicare. Benefits would not be spelled out, but all plans would have to meet a test of basic insurance value." [Associated Press, 2/16/12]

· Burr Proposed Turning Medicare Into Vouchers, Raising The Eligibility Age, And Increasing Premiums By 9 Percent."Republican U.S. Sens. Richard Burr of Winston-Salem and Tom Coburn on Thursday unveiled their plan for changing Medicare, the government-run health-care program for seniors. The plan would offer seniors, starting in 2016, the choice to stick with the government-run fee-for-service program, or choose health insurance policies offered by private companies that would bid for the right to participate in theMedicare program. According to Burr, the Seniors' Choice Act also would: Provide a maximum out-of-pocket protection so that a senior would not have to pay more than $7,500 per year in medical expenses. Gradually raise the age of eligibility for participating in Medicare by two months for each year until age 67, starting with people born in 1949. Gradually increase the premiums on Medicare by an average of 3 percent each year beginning in 2013 so that a 9 percent increase is accomplished by 2016." [Raleigh News & Observer, 2/18/12]

· Burr-Coburn Plan Increased Medicare Part B Premiums By 9 Percent Of Part A And B Program Costs Prior To Implementation Of Premium Support, And Beneficiaries Would Pay The Difference Between Their Defined Federal Contribution And Their Plan."Burr-Coburn "Seniors' Choice Act' February 16, 2012 Part B premiums would be increased by 3 percent of Part A and B program costs each year, beginning in 2013, to achieve a 9 percent increase prior to implementation of premium support in 2016. Beneficiaries would pay the difference between the defined federal contribution and the bid for the plan in which they chose to enroll. Unclear how the Part B and Part D formulas would be calculated or applied beginning in 2016." [Comparison Of Medicare Premium Support Proposals, Kaiser Family Foundation, 7/26/12]

· Burr's Proposal For Medicare Included An "Increased Shift Toward More Privatization Of The Medicare Industry." "Under the legislative proposal put forward by U.S. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and U.S. Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., seniors would be limited in how they use private supplemental Medicare insurance and maximum out-of-pocket medical expenses under Medicare Parts A and B would also be limited. The proposal would also increase out-of-pocket requirements for wealthy seniors. But perhaps the biggest change is a provision that would give seniors the right to choose the Medicare plan that best meets their needs. That means that in 2016, there would be an increased shift toward more privatization of theMedicare industry. Traditional Medicare fee-for-service plans and private plans would "be forced to compete head-to-head,' Coburn said in a statement." [A.M. Best, 2/21/12]

BURR'S PLAN WOULD HELP INSURANCE COMPAINES PROFIT

· Insurance Companies Are Prospering Through Expanding Their Roles In Government Health Care Programs. "Despite the sluggish economy, the nation's major health insurers have prospered in large part by expanding their role in government programs such as Medicare and Medicaid, according to a study released Thursday. The share of large insurers' revenues contributed by their Medicare and Medicaid business has jumped from 36 to 42 percent over the past three years….During last year's first three quarters, the combined operating margin of the five largest publicly traded insurance companies averaged 8.65 percent -- the best three-quarter performance of the past three years. This occurred even as revenues from traditional private-insurance business have remained virtually flat since the end of 2008." [Washington Post, 1/4/12]

· Private Plans Through Medicare Advantage Cost The Government 113 Percent More Than Traditional Medicare. A paper by the Kaiser Family Foundation stated that "The government pays 113% more for beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage than for beneficiaries in traditionalMedicare… While some have supported the expanded role of Medicare Advantage plans as a means to improve benefits and lower costs underMedicare, the role of private plans in Medicare has been called into question in part due to the fact that the government actually pays these plans more per enrollee than if they were in traditional FFS Medicare, according to analysis by government entities." [kff.org, accessed June 2, 2016]


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