Is the Health Care Reform Healthy or Not for Senior Citizens?
One group of people who are very concerned about the new healthcare reform is the senior citizen crowd. Seniors are probably the ones that use their healthcare than most, and are the ones that have the biggest interest in the changes. Many seniors are on fixed incomes, and this doesn’t allow much wiggle room for any raise in cost.
Many seniors want to know if this reform bill instituted by President Obama is going to affect them, and the answer is absolutely. How exactly is a whole different story, and there is no specific determination as to whether this will affect them in a positive or negative manner.
Cuts in Medicare Advantage Payments
Medicare will probably have the most changes being made to it, since part of the new bill requires the federal government’s Medicare Advantage payments to be cut by $132 billion over ten years. The government justifies this by saying that the persons covered by this part of the Medicare plan get more money from the government than those under regular Medicare. One of the main reasons is the extra benefits that are offered under the Medicare Advantage plans. These extras are more than likely one of the first things to go when the new cuts go into effect. States will start their reduction process this year and will take about three years to complete, depending on the state.
According to the new bill, the traditional Medicare system should remain untouched. Even though this has been said, there are still cuts that are going to be made to the contributions, as well as in hospital payments. These cuts and adjustments are said to take place starting in 2011 and going until about 2019.
Prescription Medicine Donut Hole Problem Remedied
Prescription medicine under Medicare will be changing for the better. Right now, seniors can spend up to $2700 annually on covered medicine before their coverage stops. If that same person spends up to $6154 on prescriptions, their coverage will begin again. This has been dubbed the “donut hole” problem, and the government is looked to remedy this.
Anyone who falls into this problem will be eligible to receive $250 in government aid. The government will then increase the medicinal costs annually. The goal is by 2020 the government will cover 75% of prescription costs for any senior that falls into the $2700-$6154 range, as well as annual wellness visits.
Medicare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board
A fifteen member Independent Payment Advisory Board for Medicare will also be created. This task board will help submit proposals and other ideas to legislation to help cut the spending of Medicare. This is only if the spending starts getting out of control and is unsustainable. If the Consumer Price Index’s growth rate is exceeded in a five year period ending in 2013, then the “too fast” label will be applied. When and if this happens, the board will meet and come up with a plan to present to the House and President.
Critics of this new bill think that this Payment Advisory Board is the answer for Medicare reductions in the future. There are specific passages in the new bill that prevents the Board from proposing an idea that would change Medicare in the following manner; raising taxes, rationing care, or altering benefits.
While only time will truly tell how these changes will affect Medicare as we know it, it would be foolish to think that it could remain as it is now. Changes do have to be made, and if some insignificant things have to be sacrificed in order to make improvements to health care in general. If more people can receive care that deserve it, and those that need it are protected as much as possible, than any change will be a positive one.