Friday, September 4, 2009

What’s In the House Health Insurance Reform Bill For Seniors?

Rising health costs are hitting seniors’ wallets—with the average Medicare Part D plus Part B premium consuming an estimated 12% of the average Social Security benefit in 2010—and 16% by 2025. Medicare, the government program that provides health care for Americans age 65 and older, will be strengthened under America’s Affordable Health Choices Act. In fact, for Medicare enrollees, the House bill lowers prescription drug costs, makes preventive care free, ensures that you can keep your doctor, and improves the quality of your care.
In a press conference to discuss what health insurance reform means for America’s seniors Rep. Xavier Becerra, Vice Chair of the House Democratic Caucus and senior member of the Ways and Means Committee, dispelled myths about the legislation. Rep. Becerra was joined by Richard Fiesta from the Alliance for Retired Americans and representatives from the Center for Medicare Advocacy and National Womens Health Network.

What’s in the health reform bill for seniors?
Ending the ‘doughnut hole’ for prescription drug coverage. The reform bill will result in lower overall prescription drug costs for seniors, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Right now, evidence suggests the “doughnut hole” coverage gap reduces seniors’ use of drugs prescribed by their doctor by an average of 14%, posing a real health threat to seniors who simply cannot afford the drugs.
So you pay nothing on recommended preventive services that will keep you healthier longer. Right now, one in five women age 50 or over did not have a mammogram in the last two years, and 38% of adults age 50 or over have never had a colonoscopy – with costs often a factor.
Ensuring you have access to and can spend more time with your primary care doctor, and making sure your care is better coordinated to ensure you get recommended treatments, particularly for chronic diseases. Right now, about 12 million seniors lack access to a primary care doctor in their community.
Eliminating the 21% pay cut your doctor was facing for Medicare reimbursements, ensuring that these doctors will still be able to care for seniors—especially in rural areas. Right now, without reform, 40% of doctors say they will reduce the number of Medicare patients they treat.


Developing national standards on quality measurement and reporting, investing in patient safety and rewarding doctors and nurses for high quality care. Right now, nearly one in five Medicare patients who are discharged from the hospital are readmitted within 30 days—many for preventable reasons.
Extending the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund by five years, to help ensure Medicare can cover every American as they get older. Right now, the Medicare Trust Fund is projected to be exhausted in just eight years, in 2017, which could cause cuts to services and care.
Focusing health care dollars on your care and benefits and cracking down on waste, fraud, abuse, and overpayments to enrich private companies. In the last year alone, improper Medicare payments that were discovered and stopped totaled more than $450 million.
Rep. Becerra also released a guide on health insurance reform for seniors — including frequently asked questions and the facts on repeated myths. Download a copy(.pdf) here>>

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