The health reform debate produced a lot of misinformation about how the health reform bill would change Medicare. Much of it focused on false claims of cuts to benefits, the infamous death panels, or hurting granny. Now that the reform bill has been signed by President Obama, it's time to set the record straight on how reform will really affect Medicare and its beneficiaries.
On Wednesday night, Governor Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama squared off in the first presidential debate. And while many pundits are commenting on who won or lost based on style, what's really important isn't who sounded smoother.
The victory on health reform was long overdue and will make great strides in improving the lives of millions of American families-bringing us closer to a more just and equitable health care system. But you wouldn't know it to talk to opponents of reform. Despite the popularity of the individual provisions of the health reform law, opponents have continued their tactics of misinformation and negative rhetoric.
When President George W. Bush passed the Medicare Part D act in 2003, its launch raised some technological problems that left consumers frustrated. Now, most American seniors view their prescription drug coverage as invaluable and support this once-controversial legislation.
Enacted to subsidize increasingly high out-of-pocket costs, Medicare Part D makes prescription drug coverage affordable for its beneficiaries. But in the months following its inception, the media criticized virtually every aspect of the federal program.
This past August, my husband, Don, brought home bad news—the company he worked for was closing. We would have to rethink our plans for health care coverage.
We had a similar conversation last year when Don was considering retiring early because the social security checks would actually be more than his income at the call center. By that time, I had been on Medicare for a few years, but I was still relying on Don’s company to cover my prescription costs. So I rushed to sign up for a Medicare plan during the open enrollment period last year.
The beltway has been abuzz ever since President Obama announced he plans to hold a Health Care Summit between key Congressional leaders. Will Republicans attend? Will President Obama provide a health reform proposal? Will the Republicans provide their own proposal? If they do provide a proposal, will meet the criteria of meaningful health reform?
Last month, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced that since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, more than 6.6 million people with Medicare have saved more than $7 billion on prescription drugs. That’s an average of $1,061 per beneficiary.
Sandy Kintz of Westport, New York, is a lung cancer survivor, but her daily life is anything but carefree. The former nurse has to use two inhalers and is unable to walk more than 60 feet without stopping because she has such difficulty breathing. She can’t afford all of her prescribed medication and explains simply, “Some drugs I can’t afford, so I gave them up.” You read that right: A cancer survivor has to give up prescribed medication because she cannot afford it. How ridiculous is that?
My grandparents are monumentally confused about health care reform. And rightfully so-opponents of health reform have told them that they're going to lose their Medicare, and that they will have to defend their life in front of a death panel.
Today, at the Families USA Health Action Conference, I attended a workshop that gave me information that will assuage my grandparent's fears. Speakers at the Medicare after Health Reform workshop outlined how Medicare will really change with reform: How the claims of opponents are far from the truth.
Since Medicare Part D went into effect in 2006, prescription drugs have been an integral part of the Medicare benefit package. So, the question of how seniors can save additional money on medications often comes up, but so does the question of how the entire Medicare Part D program can be more cost-effective and save taxpayers money without jeopardizing enrollee benefits.