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Moving in the Right Direction
July 16, 2009 • Volume 9, Issue 28
Health reform legislation introduced in the House of Representatives this past Tuesday will expand health care coverage to an estimated 97 percent of all Americans.
People with Medicare will benefit from a number of provisions in the bill that will increase their access to coverage, and help them better pay for the high costs of health care. Some of these important changes include:
- The bill expands access to low-income programs for people with Medicare. With this legislation, many additional people with low incomes will be able to receive financial assistance to pay for their medical and prescription drug costs and still keep a modest nest egg for their retirement.
- This bill will eliminate the coverage gap or “doughnut hole” in prescription drug coverage by phasing it out over 14 years. This will reduce the number of older adults who skip doses or split pills when they must pay the full price of drugs during the doughnut hole. The bill also incorporates the agreement reached with brand-name drugmakers to provide a 50 percent discount during the coverage gap.
- The bill increases Medicare payments to primary care doctors, improving access to doctors who can help people with Medicare manage chronic conditions such as diabetes or high blood pressure. This new structure will also encourage doctors to form Accountable Care Organizations, which are designed to improve quality care to patients, and to coordinate the medical care patients receive.
We are still at the early stages of the legislative process. There is no guarantee this bill will pass the House, and there is no guarantee that legislation from the Senate Finance Committee will include the same Medicare reforms. In particular, we need to let our senators know that their health reform legislation must help low-income people with Medicare afford medical care and must close the Part D doughnut hole.
We need comprehensive health reform now. Please write your senators and representative and tell them to Remember People with Medicare when they pass health reform.
“The legislation is consistent with President Obama’s overall goals of building on what works within the current health care system by strengthening employer-provided care, while fixing what is broken. The bill will ensure that 97 percent of Americans will be covered by a health care plan that is both affordable and offers quality, standard benefits.” (Statement from the House Ways and Means Committee on the introduction of America’s Affordable Health Choices Act, July 2009)
“The financial burden of health care spending in 2003 was greater for beneficiaries with low incomes than for those at higher income levels. That year, the median beneficiary with income below 200 percent of poverty ($17,960 single and $24,240 couple) spent about 22 percent of income on health care, while those at 400 percent of poverty or more spent less than 8 percent of their income on health care.” (How Much ‘Skin In The Game’ Do Medicare Beneficiaries Have? Health Affairs, 2007)
“Both the House and Senate HELP Committee bills provide valuable new health coverage options, including a public plan, to uninsured Americans that can help people with disabilities who are stuck in the two-year waiting period for Medicare. The House bill, in particular, will help more low-income people with Medicare receive assistance with drug and medical bills, and will allow them to keep a modest nest egg for their retirement.” (Statement by Medicare Rights Center President Joseph Baker on Recent Progress Toward Passage of Health Reform Legislation, July 2009)
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Medicare Part D Appeals Help for Advocates Is Here!
Medicare Rights Center’s new Medicare Part D Appeals: An advocate’s manual to navigating the Medicare private drug plan appeals process offers an easy-to-understand, comprehensive overview of the entire appeals process, including real-life case examples, a glossary of important appeals terms, a sample protocol for advocates, and links to important resources.
Register for a FREE copy of this great resource.
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Medicare Part D Monitoring Project
would like to hear about your experience, or that of someone you know, enrolled in a private drug plan. With information about what the issues are with Medicare Part D, we will be able to demand that those problems be fixed. Medicare Rights Center
Submit your story at http://www.medicarerights.org/issues-actions/tell-your-story.php.
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The Louder Our Voice, the Stronger Our Message
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Asclepios—named for the Greek and Roman god of medicine who, acclaimed for his healing abilities, was at one point the most worshipped god in Greece—is a weekly e-newsletter designed to keep you up-to-date with Medicare program and policy issues, and advance advocacy strategies to address them. Please help build awareness of key Medicare consumer issues by forwarding this action alert to your friends and encouraging them to subscribe today.
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The Medicare Rights Center is a national, nonprofit consumer service organization that works to ensure access to affordable health care for older adults and people with disabilities through counseling and advocacy, educational programs and public policy initiatives.
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