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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review August 17, 2007 / 3 Elul 5767

Medical freedom of medicare choice at risk

By Drs. Michael A. Glueck & Robert J. Cihak

The Medicine Men
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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | There is yet another relatively silent power grab by the government to limit your freedom of medical choice in the Medicare program.


To retell an old anecdote, the bureaucrat was asked why the driver's licensing offices couldn't be opened on Saturdays. He replied that they'd tried it but had to abandon the idea when they discovered that too many people were using them.


Apocryphal, perhaps. But something very similar is happening in Washington, D.C., as the usual unholy coalition of penny pinchers (for you, not them), ideologues, and bureaucrats try to curtail the growth of the most popular aspects of Medicare:


As originally enacted in 1965, Medicare permits its enrollees to seek care from any approved source that is willing to accept the government's payment rates, put up with its paperwork and run the risk of going to jail for honest errors.


When Medicare was established, everyone (including the bill's backers) understood that their cost estimates were preposterously low. Every few years since, the government has dickered with the program to try to make it more "cost-effective" from their point of view even while expanding benefits.


Herding people into HMOs has long been a favorite and dismally ineffective tactic. But another attempt, originally conceived as a minor corrective, now enrolls 20 percent of Medicare's 43 million-plus beneficiaries.


In 1993, Congress passed the Medicare Modernization Act, which established Medicare Advantage as the successor to the problem-plagued Medicare + Choice program. Under Medicare Advantage, private insurance companies contract with Medicare for the right to sell policies to Medicare beneficiaries; in 2007, there were 602 contracts between Medicare, insurers, and healthcare providers.


Medicare beneficiaries who buy these policies then deal directly with their insurers and providers, who then are paid by Medicare. Today, about 80 percent of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are enrolled in HMO or PPO plans.


But the fastest growing segment is the remaining 20 percent who opt for unrestricted private fee-for-service coverage. No managed care, no quality control, just the old-fashioned, "Thank you, I'll make my own decisions consumer approach."


No one expects Medicare Advantage to grow less popular; by some estimates, a third of all Medicare beneficiaries will be enrolled within a few years.


The program is especially popular in rural areas and among the less affluent. It also appears that Medicare Advantage members are, as a group, healthier.


And the Beltway doesn't like it one bit. And they've got their reasons:

  • Cost. Advantage runs about 10 percent higher per year per person, which adds up to about $54 billion over the next five years. Much of that money goes to providing additional benefits and services. Still, the chatter is that the drain on the "trust fund" is intolerable and that the money could be "better spent elsewhere."

  • Lack of the Draconian detailed supervision and oversight found in traditional Medicare and complaints that care is not properly managed. Again, the only people who seem not to be complaining about this are the customers.

  • Complaints of real and alleged marketing abuses by private insurers, especially after a New York Times article strung together a lot of allegations regarding high-pressure and misleading sales tactics, including one company that offered its sales people trips to Las Vegas as a particularly sinister incentive.


So what is the government doing to rein in this popular program?


In May, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed strengthening its negotiating and regulatory powers over Medicare Advantage.


In June, CMS suspended the seven largest providers of Advantage plans (who account for the vast majority of policies) from active marketing until they could correct real, alleged and purely fictive abuses and irregularities.


Allegedly, the providers have already corrected these deficiencies.


Meanwhile, the House of Representatives passed legislation (The CHAMP Act) that would fund expansion of children's care by deep cuts in Medicare, including Advantage. In no way are we against better childhood healthcare but it seems senseless to rob Grandma and Grandpa to pay for their granddaughters and grandsons.


President Bush has threatened to veto this legislation; results won't be known until the bill goes through conference with the Senate and achieves final passage.


In the meantime we suggest that those currently on Medicare Advantage, those who soon will be and those who ultimately will be, speak out now to your congressional representatives or give up one of the last advantages you have -- your freedom of medical choice.


EDITOR's NOTE: Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D. pitched this week's column

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

Michael Arnold Glueck, M.D., is a multiple award winning writer who comments on medical-legal issues. Robert J. Cihak, M.D., is a Discovery Institute Senior Fellow and a past president of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons. Both JWR contributors are Harvard trained diagnostic radiologists. Comment by clicking here.

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