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For Immediate Release Contact: Judith Stein, 860-456-7790
February 9, 2011 Vicki Gottlich, 202-293-5760

Medicare reforms included in the Affordable Care Act do not reduce Medicare’s guaranteed benefits. In fact, health care reform expands Medicare coverage, by eliminating cost-sharing for preventive services, adding a yearly wellness visit, limiting some cost-sharing in private Medicare plans, closing the Part D “Donut Hole,” and creating opportunities for exciting new delivery systems to promote coordination of care.

“How can those who berate health care reform ignore facts? The law extends the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by over a decade, and cuts Medicare costs over the next decade by billions of dollars,” says Center executive director Judith Stein. “At the very least,” she continues, “they should acknowledge that real people are already reaping the benefits of this law.”

  • Mr. G. in Florida and Ms. K. in Connecticut are two of the millions of Medicare beneficiaries with high prescription drug costs. When they enter the Part D “donut hole” in 2011, they will no longer have to pay the full cost of their medicine, but will pay only 50% of the cost of brand name drugs and 93% of the cost of generic drugs.
  • Ms. J. in Massachusetts has multiple chronic conditions that need monitoring and coordination. She can benefit from new delivery systems such as Accountable Care Organizations and Medicaid Homes designed to improve coordination and quality of care for people like her.
  • Ms. S. in California is eligible for the Part D low-income subsidy. Changes in how CMS determines which Medicare Prescription Drug Plans qualify as low-income subsidy plans mean she has more stability and continuity in drug plan coverage, and that she is less likely to have to change drug plans in order to receive the full subsidy.
  • The new Federal Coordinated Health Care Office, created by the Affordable Care Act, will help ensure that the most vulnerable Medicare beneficiaries, those who, like Ms. G. in Pennsylvania, are eligible for both Medicare and Medicaid, will not encounter barriers that prevent them from receiving the full array of benefits and services for which they are eligible.

In addition, the Affordable Care Act slows the growth in future Medicare spending by reducing wasteful overpayments to private Medicare Advantage plans, by restructuring up-dates in payments to many providers, and by tying payments to improved quality of care.

“Health care reform does not reduce Medicare benefits,” says Center Senior Policy Attorney Vicki Gottlich. “The Affordable Care Act helps Medicare beneficiaries by reducing out-of-pocket costs, adding new benefits and promoting increased quality of care. It creates a stronger Medicare program.”

Both Ms. Stein and Ms. Gottlich are available for comment.

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