Trump’s Plan to Save Medicare by Destroying It

I mentioned yesterday that Trump announced a plan to expand Medicare Advantage plans, which I found suspicious. Michael Hiltzik at the Los Angeles Times explains what I suspected — Trump is trying to privatize Medicare.

The main point is that despite his claim to be the protector of Medicare, he’s merely associating himself with Republican proposals that have been aimed at disemboweling the program for years. …

… The victims will be the 60 million seniors who depend on Medicare for their healthcare. Their costs would go up, and their access to benefits shrink.

Step one is to raise reimbursements paid for medical care to be in line with what is paid in the private health insurance market. Yeah, you read that right. “Put another way, if your intention is to bankrupt Medicare, you can hardly find a better way to do so than this,” Hiltzik writes.

Step two is to promote Medicare Advantage plans, which are administered by private companies, over regular Medicare. Medicare Advantage plans are able to offer “extra” goodies like vision benefits and health club memberships, with the trade-off that they limit customers to small networks.

Trump’s executive order provides only broad outlines; it will take a while to work out details. And I don’t believe Trump can make big structural changes to the program without a vote in Congress, so I suspect nothing will happen before the 2020 election.  This is basically about Trump getting something to run on that makes it seem he is doing something about health care. But this needs to be closely watched — and fought against.