NYC Mayor Adams wants to force retirees into a so-called Medicare Advantage plan. See my testimony against it.
See below for my testimony to New York City’s Committee on Civil Service and Labor against Mayor Eric Adams’ decision to move New York’s public worker retirees into an Aetna Medicare Advantage plan.
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Chair De La Rosa and members of the committee, thank you for this opportunity.
If you don’t remember anything else I say today, please remember this: Medicare Advantage is neither Medicare nor an advantage for millions of Americans.
And I should know. I am a former healthcare executive who used to come up with PR and marketing schemes to sell these private insurance plans.
My name is Wendell Potter, and I’m a former Cigna vice president. My name was on all of Cigna’s quarterly earnings reports for ten years. I had to know how the company made money and what it did with that money. My team and I also wrote talking points for our lobbyists.
I walked away from my career because I could not in good conscience keep lending my name to press releases and studies that all too often were biased. To this day, the industry churns out studies that omit or obscure facts and data the insurance industry does not want us to know about Medicare Advantage plans and other policies with sky-high deductibles. As a consequence, millions of middle-class families are now buried under a mountain of medical debt while insurers are posting record profits.
Medicare Advantage has become an enormous cash cow for insurers, in large part because they engage in a scheme to make enrollees seem sicker than they really are to get more of our tax dollars. The federal government estimated a few weeks ago that because of the way insurers have rigged the system, it overpaid Medicare Advantage plans by more than $11 billion last year alone. To be blunt, they are stealing our tax dollars to enrich their shareholders.
In my written testimony, I provide evidence of how Medicare Advantage plans have bamboozled employers, unions, lawmakers, and the public for years for no reason other than to maximize profits and keep Wall Street happy. I hope you will find time to read it before you vote.
Medicare Advantage is a money-making scam. And I should know. I helped to sell it.
So I implore you not to vote in favor of herding the city’s retirees into Medicare Advantage plans. Doing so will not make retirees healthier. But it will make the bottom line of big insurance corporations much healthier – with the hard-earned tax dollars of the people of this city.
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Superb! Thanks for doing this, Wendell.