WASHINGTON, D.C. – Ahead of the Medicare Open Enrollment period, U.S. Representatives Mark Pocan (WI-02) and Ro Khanna (CA-17) are introducing the “Save Medicare Act” to rename so-called “Medicare Advantage” plans, prohibit private insurers from using “Medicare” in plan titles or advertisements, and impose significant fines for any insurer that engages in this deceptive practice.
“Only Medicare is Medicare. It is one of the most popular and important services the government provides,” Rep. Pocan said. “We should be working to expand this service to include coverage for dental, vision, and hearing care, as well as looking at ways to strengthen it rather than allowing these ‘Medicare Advantage’ programs to provide pale alternatives to what Medicare does. These non-Medicare plans run by private insurers undermine traditional Medicare. They often leave patients without the benefits they need while overcharging the federal government for corporate profit. This bill eliminates any confusion about what is – and what is not – Medicare, and ensures this essential program will continue to serve seniors and other Americans for years to come.”
“‘Medicare Advantage’ is just private insurance that profits by denying coverage and the name is being used to trick seniors into enrolling. That’s not right,” said Rep. Khanna. “This bill will prevent these private insurers from labeling themselves as ‘Medicare’ and allow us to focus on strengthening and expanding real Medicare instead.”
“So-called Medicare Advantage is neither Medicare nor an advantage,” said Wendell Potter, President of the Center for Health and Democracy. “It is simply another scheme by the insurance companies to line their pockets at the expense of consumers. I applaud Congressman Pocan and Congressman Khanna for introducing this vital legislation. The health care market is confusing for consumers and misleading branding like so-called Medicare Advantage just makes it worse.”
“Medicare is a national treasure, delivering real value to millions of older adults and people with disabilities,” Diane Archer, Senior Advisor at Social Security Works and President of Just Care USA said. “Corporate insurance plans too often lean on Medicare’s good name to mislead people into signing up with them. Rep. Pocan and Rep. Khanna’s bill would put an end to this practice.”
According to a recent New York Times article, “8 of the 10 largest Medicare Advantage insurers – representing more than two-thirds of the market – have submitted inflated bills…and four of the five largest players – United Health, Humana, Elevance, and Kaiser – have faced federal lawsuits alleging that efforts to overdiagnose their customers crossed the line into fraud.”
Additionally, according to the federal Medicare Payment Advisory Commission’s 2022 report to Congress, at least $12 billion in overpayments were made to Medicare Advantage plans in 2020 by the federal government.
The “Save Medicare Act” will eliminate the confusion private insurers have relied upon for years to enroll unsuspecting seniors, and restore true Medicare as the primary health plan older Americans rely on.
Click here to read the text of the legislation.