30 June 2009

Medicare & Health Care Reform

Recent changes in Medicare have had negative effect on the 44-year old program. The 2003 Medicare Modernization Act created the Part D prescription drug plan and the Medicare Advantage plans that cost the federal government(you and I and all other taxpayers)12 to 19 percent more than traditional Medicare.

Through the years the reactionary right has stymied efforts to improve on Medicare with dental, long-term care, podiatry and vision care. What few changes have been made have benefited the insurance oligarchs and drug company Tsars rather than taxpayers or Medicare beneficiaries.

Now is the time to change that by improving the prescription drug program by creating a national, public plan option in Part D, eliminating the coverage gap, allowing beneficiaries to change plans when necessary, prohibiting Part C and D plans from making mid-year formulary deletions, granting the Secretary of Health and Human Services authority to negotiate drug prices to reduce costs and improving the appeals/exceptions process reducing cost sharing in the specialty tier.

Medicare can be enhanced by covering geriatric assessments,care coordination/management and chronic disease self-management; eliminating cost sharing for preventative services; adding a catastrophic stop-loss for beneficiary cost sharing; and enrollment assistance.

Coverage gaps in the current Medicare system are not found in typical employer provided plans and put older Americans at serious financial risk. High cost sharing in Part A, the lack of out-of-pocket limits in A and B, and the "doughnut hole" coverage gap in part D are examples of the precarious financial risk encountering too many older Americans.

Now is the time for change, contact your Senator and Representative today and ask that they improve Medicare and help create a public option as part of health care reform.

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