This report is part of Bearing Witness 2.0.
The press conference started at 12:00 on Tuesday, September 29th outside of Humana's headquarters in West Palm Beach, Florida. This wasn't the usual group of activists rallying for health care reform; this was a 21st century version of the Over the Hill Gang, although there were no wheel chairs or walkers in sight. The seniors in this group were members of the Florida Alliance For Retired Americans, with over 200,000 active members in the state, who were very upset with Humana for its recent scare tactics aimed at seniors regarding health care reform. Tony Fransetta, a Korean war veteran and president of FLARA, chastised Humana for its recent letter to its Medicare Advantage clients stating that under the new laws proposed they could lose their benefits.
Fransetta read from his open letter to Humana's CEO, Michael McCallister:
The Florida Alliance for Retired Americans denounces recent mailings to Medicare Advantage recipients. These mailings are a shameful attempt to protect your profits and they are spreading misinformation about health insurance reform. We demand that you immediately cease and desist from sending further mailings and apologize to those seniors who have received this misleading mail from Humana.
We are very disappointed and saddened at Humana's deliberate attempts to misinform Medicare Advantage recipients about health insurance reform in order to bolster your bottom line.
We all know that Humana makes outrageous profits because of Medicare Advantage overpayments. All seniors, whether or not in Medicare Advantage, are now paying an extra $43.20 a year in Medicare premiums because of these overpayments to Humana and other insurance companies. More than 31 million Medicare beneficiaries are now forced to pay this extra premium money, which goes to your profit margin, not health care for seniors.
It's time to make Medicare work for seniors, not Humana and the insurance industry. Many seniors know the truth and are working hard to make health insurance reform a reality.
The Florida Alliance for Retired Americans and its members and allies across Florida and the nation will continue to work to ensure that our hard earned tax dollars go toward health care for which they were intended and not unethical insurance company schemes.
Fransetta then told the group assembled that the Department of Health and Human Services Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services had ordered Humana to cease and desist from their current letter writing citing that the information was confusing and misleading.
Once the conference ended Fransetta and his seniors went into the office to present Humana with an enlarged copy of the letter. The office manager tried to duck them but Fransetta's group would not be denied. Once the manager appeared he tried to empty the office stating that it was a place of business, but the seniors forced a face to face confrontation. Fransetta told the manager in no uncertain terms that what Humana was doing was wrong and that his own office tactics were abominable. He presented the letter with instructions to forward it to Humana's CEO.