Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The Medicare Scam

Congressional Republicans, bored with their high school antics, have decided to take another stab at Medicare. Meaning Obamacare because there has been no greater bete noire of the American Right since Bill Clinton's cigar.

But in the process, they're talking about "privatizing" Medicare. I'm sure that has Daily Kos and Mother Jones in a tizzy because, for whatever reason, they're dedicated to defending these holdovers from the last Democratic presidents with any balls. However, I'm here to tell you that not only is this not worth the fight but the fight happened twenty years ago and Medicare is already tied deep into the for-profit health insurance racket.

For a little over four years, I was a Medicare contractor. Not for the insurance parasites - I was with the company that made the software said parasites used to upload their annual Screw Grandma plans to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid web service. So most of my time was spent recalibrating the "rules" of the software to auto-reject anything that went against Medicare policy. As that policy is always in flux - Part D, the drug benefit introduced in 2004, changes every year - I was always busy and usually drinking heavily.

But that was just eleven months out of the year. Every May, I got to live out every American's fantasy of telling insurance companies "You can't do that." And they had to listen! Because, owing to the same glorious outsourcing craze that makes being a US diplomat so exciting, we were also the government's official help line for when people couldn't make heads or tails of this brutally unintuitive and usually bug-ridden software. And even if they could make sense of it all, they usually wanted to illegally overcharge beneficiaries.

Let's say that again - Medicare is already privatized and insurance companies intentionally violate the terms of their own government contracts to turn a profit on sick old people.

That's the ugly truth of this program and also how you saw all those shrieking ninnies in 2010 crying "Keep yer gubmint hands of mah Medicare!" The government does indeed take a hands off approach to one of its few universally popular programs, all to fill the Humana and Kaiser coffers. Whether this submerged state dickery is really better for citizens or at least more efficient isn't really a consideration by anyone in power in America. It's just the same old rent-seeking behavior of a privileged few, same as they've been doing for generations. That it results in less of the aged dying in the streets is incidental.

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