What is Medicare Advantage?

The Medicare Advantage program (“Medicare Part C”) originated in 1997 with the stated goal of providing “greater choice” to Medicare recipients by introducing insurance plans that would be funded by public Medicare dollars but administrated by private companies. Since then, each year has brought an increasingly torrential flood of advertising for Medicare Advantage plans into our homes via TV, radio, sales calls, and now social media. The commercials feature happy, active seniors and tout low or zero-premium plans with the same coverage as traditional Medicare, plus “extra benefits” like dental and vision care, prescription drug coverage, transportation assistance, and even home-delivered meals.

Unfortunately, because the priority of insurance companies is always to cut costs and increase revenue, the reality of having a Medicare Advantage plan often fails to live up to the marketing, and many customers are left with high costs and much less care than promised.

As if that weren’t enough, insurance companies have gone to extreme lengths to maximize their profits, with several facing fraud charges and federal investigators declaring that 8 of the 10 largest Medicare Advantage insurers had regularly overbilled Medicare for new enrollees.

Read our full report, including stories from folks who have experienced the difficulties with Medicare Advantage firsthand.

What can we do right now?

Representative Jayapal, one of our Congressional Champions for Medicare for All, is circulating a letter to the Biden administration warning about some of the dangerous impacts of the Medicare Advantage, demanding accountability for corporations abusing the system, and calling for changes to traditional Medicare so that fewer folks would have to resort to Medicare Advantage plans. The more Congressional Representatives who sign on, the stronger the message to the administration that we deserve better!

Senator Warren is taking on this fight in the Senate, but for right now, we're focusing on the House of Representatives because there is a deadline of end-of-day WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 28th for Reps to sign on to the letter.

You can read more information about the issue in this press release from the Congresswoman's office.

Here's who has signed on so far:

  • Adams, Alma
  • Balint, Becca
  • Barragán, Nanette
  • Bowman, Jamaal
  • Bush, Cori
  • Carbajal, Salud
  • Casar, Greg
  • Chu, Judy
  • Cohen, Steve
  • DeSaulnier, Mark
  • Dingell, Debbie
  • García, Jesús
  • Garcia, Robert
  • Garcia, Sylvia
  • Goldman, Daniel
  • Grijalva, Raúl
  • Hoyle, Val
  • Jackson Lee, Sheila
  • Jayapal, Pramila
  • Johnson, Henry
  • Kelly, Robin
  • Khanna, Ro
  • Kim, Andy
  • Krishnamoorthi, Raja
  • Lee, Barbara
  • Leger Fernandez, Teresa
  • McCollum, Betty
  • McGovern, James
  • Meng, Grace
  • Mfume, Kweisi
  • Nadler, Jerrold
  • Napolitano, Grace
  • Neguse, Joe
  • Norton, Eleanor
  • Omar, Ilhan
  • Pingree, Chellie
  • Pocan, Mark
  • Porter, Katie
  • Ramirez, Delia
  • Scanlon, Mary
  • Schiff, Adam
  • Takano, Mark
  • Thompson, Bennie
  • Tokuda, Jill
  • Trone, David
  • Watson Coleman, Bonnie
  • Williams, Nikema

If your Rep isn't already on the list, CALL THEM TODAY and ask them to sign on to the letter!

All you have to do is call the US Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to be connected with your representative.

If you don't know your Representative's name, you can tell the operator what state you live in, and they should be able to get you to the right offices.

Chances are, you will not be able to speak to your Representative directly, but their staff will pass along your message.

When you get someone from your Congressperson's office on the phone, make sure to identify yourself as a constituent, tell them you are asking the Representative to sign on to Rep Jayapal's "Protect Seniors and People with Disabilities on Medicare" Letter calling for greater oversight of Medicare Advantage. Let them know why strengthening traditional Medicare and calling out corporations exploiting the Medicare system is important to you and the other residents of your state!

Finally, it would be helpful for us if you could take a moment to let us know how the call went! We'd love to hear whether or not your Rep has agreed to sign on, or, if not, what reasons they gave you. You can use the form below to report back!

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