Renting Medicare’s Provider Network

 An idea with bi-partisan support?

By Bill Rusteberg

If the federal government would rent their Medicare network and charge what the private market charges for PPO access, the government would rake in millions, if not billions of dollars in access fees. This would generate enough money to buy health insurance for those that don’t need it.

All monies left over could be invested back into the Medicare program, or additional fringe benefits for members of Congress. What better way to get bi-partisan support for this brilliant health care financing maneuver! Imagine, free botox for aging members and viagra for the younger ones! Speaking of the later, it would be entirely appropriate to earmark some of this “found money” into a slush fund to fend off sexual harassment charges! To ensure passage, throw in sex change benefits for Republicans who are trying to figure out who they are, and pickpocket lessons for Democrats.

Access fees in the market are as high as $26 pepm (Blue Cross of California). United HealthCare and Cigna rent their networks on an average of $12 pepm and more (they must be only half as good as BCBS of California). At $10 pepm, Medicare would earn billions with a stroke of a political pen.

Of course many PPO network providers earn additional fees by taking a part of the “discount” between egregious hospital chargemaster rates and allowable charges they negotiate with their hospital partners at the expense of consumers. Medicare should revisit their contracts to incorporate this additional revenue stream scheme as the commercial market is doing with extreme success.

This new found money could finance another war in the Middle East, brothels for Arab refugees in Germany through an expanded foreign aid program, or even a Trump Wall across our northern border to keep Canadians from  taking up bed space in our strained-to-the-limit hospitals.

Of course, renting the Medicare network would include prohibition against balance billing. After all, the only value PPO contracts provide is the promise of no balance billing. It is only fair that this time honored tradition continue.

Under this proposal consumers would get the same pricing as 49,000,000 other Americans (Medicare recipients) but would still be paying more than 70,000,000 other Americans (Medicaid recipients).

On second thought, maybe we should ask the government to allow us to rent the Medicaid network instead