Medicare Handbook Controversy


Medicare’s 2007 handbook "Medicare and You 2007" was recently mailed to all Medicare beneficiaries. The guide is intended to be a resource for beneficiaries, providing impartial information enabling subscribers to evaluate and compare health care plans.

In a letter to Michael Leavitt, Secretary of Health & Human Services, leading Democrats charged the publication "presents a misleading and biased view of Medicare coverage options." The letter went on to say, "The 2007 handbook strongly favors health maintenance organizations, preferred provider organizations and other private Medicare Advantage plans over the traditional Medicare fee-for-service program."

William Dombi, Vice President of the National Association for Home Care also expressed concern about misleading information in the handbook, stating, "Many home health agencies have found that they can deliver more care, and more effective care, to patients in traditional Medicare than to those in Medicare Advantage plans." Citing one specific example, Mr. Dombi said traditional Medicare does not charge co-pays for home care whereas some private Medicare plans may charge co-pays of $20 to $35 for each visit.

A spokesperson for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, Lorraine Ryan, responded, "Our only goal is to provide information that is accurate, useful and objective." The Bush administration supported the handbook and touted the notable savings (reportedly more than an average of $100 per month) beneficiaries could receive by subscribing to private plans.

Source:, 10-29-06

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