The Privatization of Medicare

An Advantage for Insurance Firms, Not Patients

Image by Julia Zyablova.

When you want to know if the US government, or the political party in charge, is pulling a fast one on the public, look at the name they give a new program or law. The USA PATRIOT Act is a classic example. An acronym for Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism, that law, passed in November 2001 with no hearings, was actually a huge wishlist of a decade’s worth of repressive and invasive assaults on the Bill of Rights pulled off Congressional shelves rushed through for President GW Bush’s signature using the 9-11 attacks as justification.

When it comes to assaults on Medicare, the same thing happens. Medicare Advantage, originally called Medicare Choice, introduced in 1997 during the Clinton administration, got its even slippery monicker in 2003. It neither improves choice nor is an advantage. Presented to Medicare enrollees as a better option than the government’s traditional Medicare Parts A and B and D, it actually reduces the choice of doctor and can leave patients without any protection from huge health costs or any ability to buy supplemental insurance.

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Dave Lindorff is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, an online newspaper collective, and is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press).

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