January 18, 2017 – WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Rep. Tom Price (R – Ga.) faced a hearing before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee to determine his qualification to become Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Medicare experts from the Center for Medicare Advocacy (CMA) have the following analysis of his statements.
- Rep. Price said the repeal of Obamacare is about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace and Medicaid, not about Medicare. But a full repeal of the ACA will certainly impact Medicare. The ACA added benefits and financial stability to the Medicare program, and these will all be in jeopardy if ACA is repealed, including:
- Medicare’s increased financial security, as ACA extends Medicare solvency by 11 years;
- No-cost annual Wellness Visit added to Medicare by ACA;
- Numerous no-cost preventive benefits added by ACA, including vaccines, screenings, and help with smoking cessation, drinking and drug addictions;
- Reduced out-of-pocket costs for prescription drugs, as ACA is reducing the Part D “Donut Hole” and will eliminate it by 2020;
- Coverage for people with significant disabilities who can obtain health insurance through ACA during the two years they must wait to qualify for Medicare;
- Coverage for older adults, between 55 – 64, who have health insurance through ACA and will be disproportionately underinsured, entering Medicare in poorer health.
- Rep. Price’s 2015 bill to replace Obamacare would push people with pre-existing conditions into “High Risk Pools,” which have traditionally failed to offer good, affordable coverage for vulnerable people. It would also discontinue coverage for young adults on their parents’ plans.
“While Rep. Price stated that all people should have access to insurance, he did not offer a plan that would ensure universal access to care. He recognizes that access to care is what people want and need, yet he offers a vision that would return people with pre-existing conditions to ‘High Risk Pools.’ High Risk Pools for people with pre-existing conditions are akin to Poor Houses for the poor. This would be a major step back for millions of Americans who finally have equal access to coverage under the Affordable Care Act. Access to insurance is not the same as access to care,” said CMA Executive Director Judith Stein.
“Further,” Ms. Stein continued, “make no mistake, Medicare and Medicare benefits will be diminished by this rush to full repeal of Obamacare. Medicare solvency is at risk and older and disabled people stand to lose important preventive services and face increased out-of-pocket costs for necessary medication.”
About Judith Stein
Judith Stein is the Executive Director of the Center for Medicare Advocacy, which she founded in 1986. From 1977 until 1986, Ms. Stein was the Co-Director of Legal Assistance to Medicare Patients (LAMP), where she managed the first Medicare advocacy program in the country. She has extensive experience in developing and administering Medicare advocacy projects and representing Medicare beneficiaries. In 2013 Ms. Stein was appointed to the National Commission on Long-Term Care by House of Representatives Leader Nancy Pelosi. She has been published and quoted widely about Medicare and its relation to the Affordable Care Act, including in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Politico.
The Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc., established in 1986, is a national nonprofit, nonpartisan law organization that provides education, advocacy, policy analysis and legal assistance to help older people and people with disabilities obtain fair access to Medicare and quality health care. We focus on the needs of Medicare beneficiaries, people with chronic conditions, and those in need of long-term care. The organization is involved in writing, education, and advocacy activities of importance to Medicare beneficiaries nationwide. The Center is headquartered in Connecticut and Washington, DC, with offices throughout the country.