Medicare, Public Option and Health Care Reform: A National/Cigna Travesty

Mar 20th, 2010 | By | Category: Social Security & Medicare

The SEC recently revealed a $110.9 million compensation package was given to CEO H. Edward Hanway who left his post with a retirement package worth that amount.  It included $18.8 million in executive compensation for 2009.  Contrast that information with the efforts Senior Citizens through organizations such as AARP are making to support health care reform that includes a public option for insurance coverage.  

The contrast is more than striking.  Medicare has been a ‘public option’ for decades.  The Medicare program offers coverage both through private insurance companies, as well as the Original Medicare program, which is a public option.  True, no one reports to be getting rich from the Medicare program, but every eligible citizen in the country 65 and older has coverage available to him/her.  And Medicare has few critics of the program in general.  It is deemed to be highly successful.  Medicare recipients overwhelmingly support the program. 

Who are Medicare’s public option critics?  Anecdotal information in the medical community suggests physicians report they cannot ‘survive’ on Medicare reimbursement rates.  However, the New England Journal of Medicine reported the results of a survey conducted in 2009; a record 62.9% supported both public and private options in health care reform.  These include primary care physicians who provide services to Medicare patients.  

SCJ suggests all the layers of smoke and mirrors be removed… 

  • Medicare, a public option program, is successful from the point of view of recipients as well as providers. 

The real opposition to the public option in health care reform (coming primarily from the National Chambers of Commerce) lies in the fact that private health care insurance companies would no longer be able to provide $110.9 MILLION compensation packages to their retiring CEOs.  Funds would actually have to be spent on providing health care to their customers instead of retirement packages to their CEOs. 

SCJ is in favor of appropriate compensation for CEOs of insurance companies, including Cigna.  However, it appears to us that $110.9 million is excessive… highly excessive.  If some of Cigna’s customers had had a public option available and had chosen that public option rather than Cigna, is it possible more citizens would have had good health care, and the CEO would still have been compensated adequately, not excessively, for his services?  SCJ suggests the answer is an unequivocal Yes.



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