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What We Lose Without Health Reform
January 21, 2010 • Volume 10, Issue 3
Both the House and Senate passed far-reaching health care reform bills last year, but the election of Massachusetts Republican senator Scott Brown this week makes it more difficult—but not impossible—to pass final legislation that reconciles the differences between the House and Senate bills. There are a number of procedural options for passing a health reform bill that has the support of a majority in both the House and the Senate and that President Obama would sign. What should not be an option is giving up on health care reform.
Older adults and people with disabilities in particular will lose if the Medicare improvements in health reform are not implemented.
People with Medicare now face a gap, or “doughnut hole,” in their drug coverage, when their benefits stop and they must pay the full price for their drugs in addition to the premiums for drug coverage. In 2010, people must spend nearly $4,000 out of pocket to get out of the gap; most never get out and many split pills or stop taking their medicine instead. If we give up on health reform, that coverage gap will grow to more than $7,000 by 2019. Senate leaders and President Obama have promised that the final bill will include a phase-out of the coverage gap by 2019, which is already part of the House health reform bill.
Medicare provides coverage for the treatment of illness and injury, but it falls short in providing affordable coverage of preventive care. Both the House and Senate bills eliminate deductibles and coinsurance for preventive benefits, and the Senate bill would provide 100 percent coverage for an annual health assessment.
One in five people with Medicare who are discharged from the hospital are readmitted within 30 days. Preventable readmissions cost Medicare $12 billion every year. Both the House and Senate bills provide incentives to hospitals to improve care after discharge and for specialists and primary care doctors to improve the coordination of care.
People with Medicare aren’t the biggest losers if Congress gives up on health reform. Over 20,000 people in the U.S. die each year because they lack health insurance, according to the Urban Institute. There are now 50 million people with no health insurance in our country. If we give up on health reform, that number will grow to 54 million in ten years, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Both the House and Senate bills would cover more than 90 percent of U.S. residents.
People who can’t get health benefits through their jobs, or who lose their insurance when they lose their jobs, can now be denied coverage if they have a pre-existing condition. Both the House and Senate bills would make this practice illegal. If we give up on health reform, insurance companies will be able to continue to deny coverage to the people who need it most—those with illnesses needing treatment.
These are the essential elements of health reform: covering the uninsured, prohibiting unfair insurance company practices and improving Medicare. We can’t give up now. We have too much to lose.
Learn More About Health Reform and Medicare
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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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