Update 03/01: Our pressure is scaring them! They’ve been forced to re-brand “direct contracting” (Say hello to “ACO REACH!”) and added a few crumbs for the poor, but PNHP states that it’s still “direct contracting in disguise” – putting profit-driven middleman that no beneficiary ever asked for into traditional Medicare.
(Note to self: Any privatization program that requires “Accountable” as its first word is in trouble out the door.)
- Action #1: Sign a petition to HHS Sec. Xavier Becerra that asks him to exercise his power to end this dangerous program.
- Action #2: Call your representative to fight against Trump’s privatizing of Medicare and to support H.R.3. – the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act .
- Action #3: Seriously Joe. What are you thinking? Keep your word!
However, Rep. Katie Porter is sounding the alarm! We need to educate Congress — and soon.
In May of 2021, four members of the U.S. House of Representatives (Reps. Mark Pocan, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Lloyd Doggett, and Katie Porter) sent a letter to Dept. of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra expressing concern about Medicare Direct Contracting, and calling for an immediate freeze of the program.
Action #1: The Biden administration has the power to stop this program in its tracks. Sign a petition to HHS Sec. Xavier Becerra and ask him to exercise his power to end this dangerous Medicare privatization program.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (lead sponsor of H.R. 1976, the Medicare for All Act) sent a sign-on letter to every member of Congress (read the letter here) addressed to HHS Sec. Xavier Becerra, asking him to immediately end the Medicare Direct Contracting pilot program.
Thousands of doctors and other advocates have already signed a petition demanding that Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra halt the DC program, provide real oversight of CMS’ Innovation Center, and protect Medicare for future generations. (One-page fact sheet: pnhp.org/DCEFactSheet)
Now it’s our turn.
Sign the petition here: https://pnhp.salsalabs.org/dcepetitionseptember2021/index.html
Action #2: Call your representative to fight against Trump’s privatizing of Medicare and to support H.R.3. – the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act .
Minimal script: I’m calling from [zip code) and as a person [who is on Medicare now/who hopes a robust Medicare program is still there when I need it], I want Representative [___] to urge HHS Sec. Becerra and the administration to stop ACO REACH and any other programs that privatize Medicare. I also want [him/her] to support and push through H.R.3 – Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, which would protect Medicare enrollee from excessive costs and unfair prices.
(Who’s already a cosponsor of H.R.3 here. Brownley STILL has NOT signed (03/01), Carbajal has.)
- Rep. Julia Brownley (CA-26): email, DC (202) 225-5811, Oxnard (805) 379-1779, T.O. (805) 379-1779
- or Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24): email. DC (202) 225-3601, SB (805) 730-1710 SLO (805) 546-8348
- Who is my representative/senator?: https://whoismyrepresentative.com
Action #3: Seriously Joe. What are you thinking? Keep your word!
This is what we sent him. Feel free to use what you want, but letters are more powerful if you share personal stories.
While you were running for president, you said that every American should have a public health insurance option like Medicare. You said “As in Medicare, the Biden public option will reduce costs for patients by negotiating lower prices from hospitals and other health care providers. It also will better coordinate among all of a patient’s doctors to improve the efficacy and quality of their care, and cover primary care without any co-payments. And it will bring relief to small businesses struggling to afford coverage for their employees.“
So why are you selling Medicare itself to Wall Street? We don’t care what you call it – ACO REACH or “Direct Contracting with a few more crumbs for poor people” – it’s still a privatization scam envisioned by the corrupt Trump administration to throw Medicare money to their friends. Who exactly is asking you to add middlemen to Medicare, skimming more money off the top, raising our costs and lowering our care? Who is asking you to use our taxes to police these profit-driven firms and or to prosecute the inevitable cheaters? Not the American people. We want this abomination stopped now, before more of these firms feel they have an entrenched interest.
Joe, keep your word. There is no closer effect you can have on our lives than knowing a real public health care system exists when we, or someone we love is wearing a paper gown on an examining table. Work publicly and transparently to overthrow all iterations of Medicare privatization and to create that public option for those not yet qualified for “real” Medicare.
Contact Joe: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/
More information on the Medicare Direct Contracting scam, now known as ACO REACH (“Accountable Care Organization Realizing Equity, Access and Community Health”) Seriously, why not add “Kittens!”
While our now ex-president was handing out get-out-of-jail-free cards to Medicare fraudsters, officials at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation (CMMI) launched a dangerous and insidious pilot program known as Medicare Direct Contracting.
You know what would be a real innovation? MEDICARE FOR ALL! No more multi-million dollar corporate salaries. No more “up-coding” for maximum profits. Cost savings from the massive buying power of the federal government. Medical ACCESS for all would actually save us about $450 BILLION dollars a year.
Instead, Trump’s CMMI came up with this scam…a privatization scheme which would automatically enroll more than 30 million seniors who’d deliberately chosen traditional Medicare into for-profit “Direct Contracting Entities,” (DCEs) instead, without their full knowledge or consent.
This scam allows virtually any type of company to apply to be a DCE, including commercial insurers, venture capital investors, and for-profit dialysis chains. DCEs have already received a huge influx of money from the same private equity firms who’ve been busy destroying America’s retail industry, and who came so close to owning our infrastructure under Trump. Business-as-usual for them will be an inexorable march towards limiting seniors’ care in order to maximize their profits, while passing expenses right back to patients. These sociopathic financial pirates would completely transform traditional Medicare into a shadow of itself within the next few years, and they can do it all without any oversight from Congress. Unless we stop DCEs, these entities could spell the end of Medicare as a public, nonprofit, social insurance program and the most shocking part is that most of our legislators have no idea this is happening.
(Jacobinmag.com) Joe Biden seemed to be dangling a blade over the “direct contracting” program after a groundswell of opposition among both grassroots activists and progressives in Congress forced his hand. Officials began hinting that they would overhaul the program or even cancel it entirely, with those businesses set to profit from it working feverishly to prevent the latter outcome. For the past week, both the health care industry and advocates for public health care have been waiting anxiously to find out what the administration decided.
Yesterday, they got their answer. In response to “feedback from stakeholders and participants,” the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced the direct contracting program would be turned into something called ACO REACH (Accountable Care Organization Realizing Equity, Access, and Community Health)…
…“We don’t see anything other than a name change,” says Diane Archer, president of Just Care USA.
The Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP), one of the groups that has led the fight against the program, has reacted similarly, with president Dr Susan Rogers calling ACO REACH “direct contracting in disguise,” and warning that it “doubles down” on the fundamental problem at hand: needlessly placing a profit-driven middleman that no beneficiary ever asked for into traditional Medicare.
- Direct Contracting one-page fact sheet
- Direct Contracting policy primer (4 pages)
- Form sent to seniors in Indiana University Hospital System requesting voluntary alignment to a DCE
- Article about Direct Contracting in Health Affairs journal by former CMS Administrator Dr. Don Berwick and former CMS Innovation Center director Dr. Rick Gilfillan:
- List of current DCEs
- CONTRACT between CMS and Direct Contracting Entities
- Direct Contracting Entities’ Financial Operating GUIDE from CMS
- “Is There a New Plot to Privatize Medicare Afoot?” interview with Dr. Ana Malinow, Thom Hartmann Program, September 20, 2021
- “Wall Street’s Latest Attack on Traditional Medicare,” interview with Dr. Ed Weisbart, Code Wack Podcast, October 18, 2021, (part one of this two-part podcast, which covers Medicare Advantage, available HERE)
- “Medicare Direct Contracting call-in,” interview with Dr. Ana Malinow, Redwood Community Radio, KMUD, October 1, 2021
- “Docs Come to D.C. to Protest Medicare’s Direct Contracting Program,” by Joyce Frieden, MedPage Today, December 1, 2021
- “Congress ‘Asleep at the Switch’ as Biden Continues Trump-Era Ploy to Privatize Medicare,” by Jake Johnson, Common Dreams, November 30, 2021
- “Biden moves forward with Trump Medicare privatization plan,” by Chris Tomlinson, Houston Chronicle, November 8, 2021
- “Direct Contracting Entities: The Latest Scam to Privatize Medicare,” by Lambert Strether, Naked Capitalism, September 27, 2021
- “This latest under-the-radar program could push Medicare deeper into private hands,” by Trudy Lieberman, Center for Health Journalism, March 11, 2021
- “Trump administration attempts to privatize traditional Medicare,” by Diane Archer, JustCare USA, December 17, 2020
- “Stop the corporate Medicare money-grab,” by Dr. Emily Kane, Senior Voice Alaska, December 1, 2021
- “Willie Sutton and the brave new world of Medicare privatization,” by Dr. Marvin Malek, VTDigger, November 30, 2021
- “Medicare and Social Security have been successful,” by David Ross Stevens, News and Tribune (Jeffersonville, Ind.), November 24, 2021
- “Medicare is on the menu,” by Dr. Robert S. Kiefner, Concord (N.H.) Monitor, November 12, 2021
- “A successful Medicare should never be privatized,” by Dr. Elizabeth Rosenthal, The Riverdale Press (Bronx, N.Y.), October 31, 2021