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Friday, July 9, 2010

What death panels?

Erin Kelly

Staff Writer

When it comes to Medicare, we heard it all during the debate over health reform: Death panels! Rationing! Obama wants to kill granny! The rumors and scare tactics were so ridiculous, sometimes it was difficult to understand how anyone could believe them. But now that Americans are beginning to see the benefits of reform, it’s time we put the rumors to rest and start focusing on how the new law is improving health care across the country.

Let’s get one thing straight: Health reform isn’t rationing health care for seniors and disabled Americans on Medicare, it’s strengthening their care. For example, the Obama administration and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently proposed the implementation of key provisions of health reform that would expand preventive services for beneficiaries. Without health reform, beneficiaries would go without these added provisions.

So what does this mean? Put simply, it means that out-of-pocket costs for most preventive services will be eliminated, rural communities will get better access to health care, and all beneficiaries will get an annual wellness visit that will give them the chance to develop a more personalized health plan with their doctor.

Jonathan Blum of CMS said,

The rule we are proposing today is just one part of the Administration’s efforts to improve the health status of Medicare beneficiaries by expanding access to preventive services, and promoting early detection and prompt treatment of medical conditions.

A recent report by Families USA shows why the fear-mongering from health care opponents is simply unfounded. Seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries have a lot to gain from reform. From closing the donut hole to ensuring that no beneficiary goes without preventive care due to cost, the new law is making Medicare work more efficiently now and for years to come.

So there you have it. Death panels? I don’t think so. Thanks to health reform, Medicare is not only a stronger program, but new benefits mean that beneficiaries can live stronger and healthier lives. Sounds like a win-win to me.