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1,000s Of Docs Cut From Medicare Advantage

From the Wall Street Journal:

UnitedHealth Culls Doctors From Medicare Advantage Plans

Physicians in 10 States Notified; Insurer Cites ‘Funding Pressure’ From Federal Government

By Melinda Beck | November 16, 2013

UnitedHealth Group Inc., the nation’s largest provider of privately managed Medicare Advantage plans, has dropped thousands of doctors from its networks in recent weeks—spurring protest from lawmakers and physician groups and leaving many elderly patients unsure about whether they need to switch plans to keep seeing their doctors.

We talked about this back in April 2012. A 90 day notice about these Medicare Advantage cuts was supposed to have gone out before the November 2012 elections. But Obama (illegally) transferred $8 billion dollars to extend Medicare Advantage long enough, so that nobody would hear about the cuts until after the elections. Now those delayed cuts are finally taking effect.

Doctors in at least 10 states have received termination letters, some citing "significant changes and pressures in the health-care environment."…

UnitedHealth said its provider networks are always changing and that it expects its Medicare Advantage network "to be 85% to 90% of its current size by the end of 2014," although it declined to say how many doctors are being cut in individual states or what criteria it is using…

So they are ‘downsizing’ by 15%, just when more and more people are supposed to be getting insurance, and needing more doctors.

Other Medicare Advantage providers, including Humana Inc., Aetna Inc. and WellPoint Inc., said they are always evaluating their provider networks, but doctor groups say none appear to be shrinking them to the extent of UnitedHealth.

UnitedHealth is the biggest player, with nearly three million members in Advantage plans, many of them sold under the AARP brand. The company says it had over 350,000 doctors in its Advantage provider networks.

And, lest we forget, both UnitedHealth and especially the AARP were major cheerleaders for Obama-Care.

Among the practices UnitedHealth has dropped are Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Fla., and the Yale Medical Group in New Haven, Conn., which includes 1,200 faculty physicians.

"Instead of a scalpel, United is using a chain saw," said Michael Saffir, a rehabilitation specialist and president of the Connecticut State Medical Society, which estimates the insurer has cut 2,200 doctors across the state.

Two Connecticut county medical groups filed suit against UnitedHealth in U.S. District Court, alleging that the terminations violated contract provisions.

If groups are going to start to sue insurance companies, just wait until people realize that all of the old-style plans are technically illegal. And you can’t be bound by an illegal contract.

Several state attorneys general are investigating. Congressional delegations have complained about the company’s timing and tactics to Medicare administrator Marilyn Tavenner, as did 43 national medical associations and 40 state medical societies in a joint letter on Nov. 6…

And what about Obama’s timing last year?

AARP issued a statement saying it "has heard from a small number of our members regarding this decision" and was encouraging anyone with concerns to contact UnitedHealth directly…

In other words, just like our dear leader, the AARP is passing the buck.

This article was posted by Steve Gilbert on Monday, November 18th, 2013. Comments are currently closed.

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