Throughout the health care reform debate, we’ve seen opponents of reform come out in full force to misrepresent how this legislation will affect the American people. For months they have been targeting seniors---trying to deceive them into thinking that the President’s plan will reduce their guaranteed benefits. This is simply untrue. Under the new health reform law, no guaranteed Medicare benefits will be cut. Here is the real truth: The new health reform law will lower costs for seniors while improving the quality of care. That’s why seniors groups like AARP strongly support the new law. Let’s take a look at some of the key benefits for seniors:
- Under the new health reform law health care reform, seniors will get relief from exorbitant prescription drug costs that millions face when reach the gap in coverage known as the doughnut hole. This year, Medicare beneficiaries will get a $250 rebate if they hit this doughnut hole. And next year, they will receive a 50% discount on brand-name drugs in the donut hole. By 2020, the prescription drug donut hole will be completely closed. As AARP noted in its statement yesterday, “by completely closing the doughnut hole, people in Medicare Part D thankfully no longer have to make the tough decision to either pay bills or split pills.”
- Right now, seniors pay up to 20 percent of the cost of many of their preventive services. But next year, thanks to health reform, Medicare beneficiaries will receive free preventive care and annual wellness checkups at no cost.
- Reform will strengthen the financial health of Medicare through the elimination of waste and fraud, and by ending overpayments to private insurance companies. Through reform, unwarranted subsidies to private health plans will be reduced. Medicare’s guaranteed benefits will be protected.
- Seniors will see their care improve as we move to a system where providers are rewarded based on the quality of their care. With these changes, physicians and hospitals will be incentivized to reduce medical errors and coordinate care to keep people healthy.
So, while opponents of reform try to distort the facts and spread fear, seniors can rest assured that their coverage will be more comprehensive and more affordable as a result of health reform.
Linda Douglass is with the White House Office of Health Reform