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Multiple Sclersois Patients Fighting to Keep Doctors Denied Under Obamacare

 

President Obama Promises "If you like your doctor..." you know the rest.

President Obama  Promises “If you like your doctor…” you know the rest.

As Medicare Patients lose their doctors due to Obamacare, a Patient advocacy group is rallying the troops to stop this dangerous event.  The Southern Multiple Sclerosis Consortium has started a grassroots campaign to ensure Medicare patients can really keep their doctors. Read More in this action alert,  Special to Sun Beam Times
by Dr. Daniel Kantor.


“We will keep this promise: if you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor. Period.” – President Obama, 2009

A lot of attention has been placed recently on another false promise made by the President back in 2009: “At the same time — I just want to be completely clear about this; I keep on saying this but somehow folks aren’t listening — if you like your health care plan, you keep your health care plan. Nobody is going to force you to leave your health care plan”

In November 2013, President Obama admitted that “we did fumble the ball,” and in an about face he stated that: “This is something I deeply regret because it’s scary getting a cancellation notice … It’s on me. Those who got cancellation notices do deserve better and they received an apology from me. But they deserve more than words.” 

So, since the promise that you can “keep your health plan” if you like it was admittedly a false promise, what about the promise that “if Americans like their doctor, they’ll be keeping their doctor?” Hundreds of thousands of patients have received notification by their Medicare Advantage insurance plans that they cannot keep their doctors. 

Medicare Advantage plans are alternatives to traditional Medicare and the annual open enrollment period for 2014 ends on December 7, 2013. This means that Medicare beneficiaries (seniors and disabled individuals) need to make decisions now that will affect their services for 2014.  

Insurance companies try to reduce their financial risk (and increase their profits) by controlling who is in their risk pool. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) made it illegal to exclude people based on pre-existing conditions, so the insurance companies have figured out another way of getting sick people out of their insurance plans: 

UnitedHealthcare (and to a lesser extent Humana and some other insurers) is abandoning patients by saying that their doctors don’t belong on their network or aren’t preferred – what they are saying is that having a serious diagnosis, like MS, is “not preferred.”  

Watch an ActionnewsJax story on this topic: http://www.actionnewsjax.com/content/topstories/story/Patients-scramble-as-Medicare-drops-doctors/ErwkxUvkIkmuhZHPs9Rp1A.cspx

 Your doctors are not sitting idly by while this is happening. We are taking a multi-pronged approach of : 

1. Media interviews
2. Social Media – using twitter hashtag #KeepYourDoctor
3. Engagement of patient advocacy groups
4. Engagement of Organized Medicine
5. Rally the public – political and social clubs
6. Keeping our patients informed about what is going on
7. Considering legal action – in Connecticut this is already happening. 

So what can you do? 

    1. Personal Action: If you are a Medicare beneficiary then remember that open enrollment ends December 7, 2013. If you are considering a Medicare Advantage plan, ou should find out if your doctors are allowed to see you. If you are on traditional Medicare with or without a Medigap supplemental plan then you can keep seeing your doctors as long as they are still on Medicare. With all the commercials made by AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) and UnitedHealthcare, people are sometimes confused and think that they need to be on a Medicare Advantage plan instead of traditional Medicare – this is not the case.
    2. Collective Action: The Medicare Advantage plans are regulated by CMS (Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services), a non-elected branch of the federal government. This means that pressure needs to be exerted on our elected officials to have them pressure CMS to investigate what these private companies are doing and how it may be violating core principles of patient care (like parts of Florida, where the insurance company is dumping most of the Spanish speaking specialists, which means that Spanish speaking patients have less access to care). So, we all need to be reaching out to our congressional senators and representatives. 

To contact your representative, visit this site to search for them: http://www.house.gov/htbin/findep?

 To contact your senators, visit this site to search for them:
http://www.senate.gov/general/contact_information/senators_cfm.cfm

 To contact the White House, visit:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/contact/submit-questions-and-comments

 


 

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