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Health Insurance Reform Mythbuster: Insurance Companies Using Front Group to Falsely Claim Seniors' Benefits Will Be Cut

Health insurance reform opponents continue to spread myths and use scare tactics in an attempt to frighten America's seniors about the impact the Affordable Health Care for America Act will supposedly have on Medicare. 

A group calling itself the Coalition for Medicare Choices sent seniors across the country mailers with a profile of an older person on one side with the ominous statement: “Rep. [name] voted to cut our health benefits…” and “Rep. [name] voted for deep cuts to Medicare Advantage…” on the flip side. 

Even coming from a new messenger, the claim is still not true.

MYTHThe Coalition for Medicare Choices is fighting for seniors.

FACT: The Coalition for Medicare Choices is a sham senior group created and run by America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) - the health insurance company lobby arm - to protect private health insurance interests.

During the Bush Administration's attempt to privatize Medicare, AHIP used this front group in the fight to create the illusion of support among seniors:

“To confuse legislators even more, the industry has called on its own sham ‘consumer' group, the Coalition for Medicare Choices, to push its agenda on the Hill.” [The Nation, 7/16/07]

MYTH: Health insurance reform will lead to Medicare benefit cuts for America's seniors.

FACT: The Affordable Health Care for America Act strengthens Medicare for America's seniors - extending solvency by five years, improving primary care, lowering drug costs and closing the prescription drug ‘doughnut hole,' and tightening oversight - which is why AARP found their members supported the legislation by more than a 2-1 (63 percent-30 percent) margin.[11/16/09]

The Medicare cost savings in the House bill affect insurance companies and health care providers, not seniors. Studies show at least 5 percent of Medicare spending currently goes to waste, fraud, and abuse. That five percent is all this bill would cut. They are achieved by reducing excessive profits that private insurance companies are making off Medicare Advantage; requiring hospitals, doctors, and other providers to be more efficient; calling for more coordinated care; and cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse.

As AARP's Executive Vice President of Policy John Rother has pointed out: “Gradually, eliminating these excess payments [to private Medicare Advantage plans] will permit good plans to continue and put pressure on others to offer better value to their enrollees… That's what fair competition is supposed to do.”  

To download a health insurance reform guide for seniors, click here.