Medicare Advantage patients helpless as their doctors get dumped

Written by . Posted in 2014 Campaigns, Issue Watch

Published on December 02, 2013

CaptureRemember those Medicare cuts that the Democrats and the White House used to make Obamacare appear budget-neutral on paper? The ones that Republicans somewhat hypocritically railed against during the 2010 election cycle?

Well, that didn’t make the cuts any less real. So add one more group of people that Obama lied to — er, “misspoke” to — with his famous “you can keep it” promise.

Dorathy Senay’s doctor had some bad news after her last checkup, but it wasn’t about her serious blood disorder called amyloidosis. Her Medicare Advantage managed care plan from UnitedHealthcare/AARP is terminating the doctor’s contract Feb. 1.

She is also losing her oncologist at the prestigious Yale Medical Group — the entire 1,200 physician practice was axed.

Senay, 71, of Canterbury, Conn., is among thousands of UnitedHealthcare Medicare members in 10 states whose doctors will be cut from their plan network…

…The Affordable Care Act phases in reductions in government payments to Medicare Advantage plans – $156 billion over 10 years – to bring the program into line with the costs of caring for seniors in traditional Medicare.

Kaiser Health News cites related doctor cuts in Florida, Connecticut, New York City, and Ohio, but the companies involved aren’t sharing any numbers. Surely this is happening in almost every state — there are 14 million people in the program, in all.

And here’s the worst part: If your doctor is cancelled because of the Affordable Care Act, the only right you have is to a 30-day notice. As the piece notes, once open enrollment ends, you can’t switch Medicare Advantage plans to follow your doctor for up to a year.