Countless elderly Americans on Medicare are discovering they’ve lost their trusted doctors because their HMOs (health maintenance organizations), in a move to trim costs, have fired those physicians.
Jocelyn Maminta reports for WTNH that UnitedHealthCare (UHC) sent thousands of pink slips to Connecticut doctors caring for ‘Medicare Advantage‘ patients — a UHC plan that’s marketed to Seniors to provide additional services.
A mix of primary care and specialty physicians are affected by it. The firing comes at a time just when open enrollment for Medicare had begun on Oct. 15, introducing chaos and uncertainty as to which doctors are still in the United
UnitedHealthCare spokesman Ben Goldstein says “Members with questions are encouraged to call the customer service number on the back of their member ID card for more information” and that “With the many changes happening in health care, we are building a network of health care providers that we can collaborate with more closely to have the most positive impact on the quality of care for our members. We are prepared to help our members transition to new providers.” Blah. Blah. Blah.
The same thing is happening in New York.
There are 2.6 million elderly New Yorkers who receive Medicare, one in three of whom (nearly 900,000) are enrolled in Medicare Advantage — Medicare HMOs run by private insurers.
Carl Campanile reports for the New York Post that New Yorkers in Medicare Advantage are in a panic after getting notices that insurance companies are booting their doctors as a result of the shifting medical landscape under ObamaCare.
The insurance companies include UnitedHealthcare, EmblemHealth, and Empire Blue Cross-Blue Shield.
Dr. Jonathan Leibowitz, who serves 30 patients under Medicare Advantage at his Brooklyn practice, was told by UnitedHealthcare that because of “significant changes and pressures in the health-care environment,” he would be getting the ax on January 1. Leibowitz said he was blindsided: “A patient can’t see his doctor? What are they doing!”
Leibowitz’s patients are furious. Alfred Gargiulio, who has cerebral palsy with a seizure disorder, has been seeing Dr. Leibowitz since 1993: “Obama had said I could keep my doctor. Now they’re doing away with my doctor. They kicked him out! After 20 years, that’s not right. We love Dr. Leibowitz.” Another patient, Wilma Streicher, 76, was equally baffled: “Of course I want to keep Dr. Leibowitz. I don’t see why they want to push him out.”
Lung-cancer patient Jeannette Campregon, 79, received a letter from EmblemHealth saying that her internist, George Ruggiero, was terminated from her VIP High Option Medicare Advantage network. Campregon said, “I’m going absolutely nuts. I don’t want to change my doctor!”
The firing of so many doctors leaves patients with unenviable choices: keep the same insurance plan and find another doctor, pay out of pocket or look for another plan where their physician is a member.
The Connecticut State Medical Society is fighting back. The Society’s president, Dr. Michael Saffir, says the firing of Medicare Advantage doctors “is clearly not a patient centered decision.” He recommends to doctors that they call UnitedHealthcare to find out why they were terminated without cause, and to seniors affected by this, they should call the office of the HealthCare Advocate of Connecticut at 1-866-466-4446.
Why are thousands of Medicare Advantage doctors being fired?
The answer is ObamaCare.
Under Obamacare, federal funding to Medicare Advantage is being reduced by billions of dollars in coming years. Obama said spending on the Advantage program is higher than regular Medicare and is “unsustainable.”
Mark my words: The firing of Medicare Advantage doctors is just the beginning. President Lucifer is gunning for the Advantage program itself, and ultimately all of Medicare.
Just think: What he and the Demonrats really want is the government’s takeover of the health “care” of all Americans via a “single-payer,” i.e. government-run nationalized healthcare system.
That’s the ultimate goal of Obamacare.
Once this super-sized Obamacare is in place, Medicare would be superfluous and will be jettisoned, if not sooner.
Dr. Eowyn is the Editor of Fellowship of the Minds.