After a Medicare Advantage plan abruptly dropped him and hundreds of other physicians, Dr. Steven Wolfson tearfully said goodbye to patients of 30 years and offered some final advice: Don’t get sick.
Wolfson, a cardiologist at the Yale School of Medicine, shared his experience Monday morning at a “roundtable” discussion of a new bill designed to protect Medicare Advantage beneficiaries from “bait and switch” maneuvers by health care plans.
That’s how U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal described a recent move by United Healthcare Group, which had dropped hundreds of doctors from its Medicare Advantage plans. That move forced senior citizens to lose physicians they may have had for decades and find new doctors who may be a significant distance from their homes.
Blumenthal and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D- 3rd Distsrict, are proposing bills that would prevent Medicare Advantage plans from dropping doctors without cause except during open enrollment periods. Plans would have to finalize their provider networks 60 days before the annual open enrollment period begins.
“This bill arises from a hugely wrong and exploitative practice by United Healthcare,” Blumenthal said. He said the company dropped 2,250 doctors across the state, affected some 32,000 patients. Doctors sued and won an injunction.