Seniors' Health: Protecting Medicare, Medicaid Now and in the Future

What does the new health care law do for seniors?

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, signed into law on March 23rd, 2010, puts an end to some of the worst insurance company abuses and levels the playing field to give working families, seniors, and small businesses access to the kind of stable, quality, affordable health coverage that has been out of reach for so many, for far too long.

The law makes health coverage more secure by making sure no more families are denied care due to a pre-existing condition, or lose their coverage or be forced into bankruptcy when someone gets sick. The law includes many important benefits to enhance the quality of seniors’ care, while making things like prescription drugs more affordable.

Here are just a few of the benefits for seniors:

  • New prescription drug discounts and elimination of the “donut hole” coverage gap: 

    Beginning in 2011, any senior who hits the “donut hole” coverage gap will get a 50% discount on brand name Rxs, 7% on generics with those discounts increasing each year until the donut hole is closed in 2020.

  • New free preventive care benefits: 

    Beginning in 2011, all seniors on Traditional Medicare began receiving new benefits, including an annual wellness visit & overall health consultation with your doctor. These new preventive benefits include things like: flu shots, mammograms, and nutrition counseling to better manage chronic conditions, as well as no-cost screenings for cancer, diabetes, and other chronic diseases. These new benefits have already helped over 2 million seniors in Pennsylvania!

  • Lower Medicare Part B Premiums: 

    Because the Affordable Care Act has been effective in improving Medicare efficiencies and reducing costs, the Medicare Part B premium for 2012 was lower than projected -- $99.90, In addition, the Part B annual deductible decreased by $22 to $140, the first time in Medicare's history when the deductible was lower. These developments, along with the 3.6% Social Security cost-of-living adjustment, means that the average retiree received a nearly $40 per month increase in their Social Security checks in January 2012.

  • New investments to increase the number of primary care physicians: 

    The law provides bonus payments to primary care doctors accepting Medicare patients, and to those practicing in shortage areas.

  • New measures to crack down on waste, fraud & abuse: 

    The law provides for new resources and tools to protect taxpayer dollars by preventing fraud in Medicare and Medicaid, building on the efforts of the Department of Health and Human Services and the Justice Department, which have already generated significant savings for taxpayers. 

    The Health Care Fraud Prevention & Enforcement Action Team (HEAT) was created by President Obama in 2009 to prevent waste, fraud and abuse in Medicare. Also, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force teams were expanded - the teams were in seven cities and imprisoned 146 individuals and racked up 140 indictments against 284 defendants who illegally billed Medicare for almost $600 million in fraudulent payments.

    Nearly $4.1 billion was recovered in Fiscal Year 2011 from individuals and companies seeking fraudulent payments from Medicare and Medicaid. 

    These new anti-fraud efforts include tougher penalties for people who steal from Medicare and more law enforcement to find criminals abusing the law and beneficiaries. 

  • New savings that help extend the life of Medicare an additional 8 years! 

    By reducing unnecessary and system-draining overpayments to private insurance companies offering supplemental (Medicare Advantage) plans, and cracking down on waste, fraud and abuse, the law saves billions of dollars that are reinvested to extend the solvency of Medicare another 14 years, until 2030.