Gordon: What Health Care Reform Means For Tennessee Seniors

WASHINGTON – Recently, the House of Representatives approved health insurance reform legislation that will bring down the cost of health care for seniors, preserve Medicare and correct problems with the Medicare Part D prescription program.

“We’ve debated this issue for almost a full year. Now is the time to move forward, look at how it benefits seniors, families and small businesses, and address the economic challenges our communities are facing,” said Congressman Bart Gordon.

Health care accounts for one out of every five dollars of the U.S. federal budget. According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the health care reform package passed by the House will reduce the deficit by $143 billion over the next 10 years and $1.2 trillion in the 10 years after that.

Gordon encouraged Middle Tennessee seniors to learn how the bill may affect them.

If you are a senior receiving Medicare:

• You will no longer be charged co-payments for preventive services such as screenings. Preventive services will also be exempt from deductibles. This provision will be effective January 1, 2011.

• Your access to inexpensive generic drugs at local pharmacies will be protected by a correction to Medicare’s payment formula.

• Reforms in this bill will protect benefits and extend the solvency of Medicare by nine years.

If you have been affected by the Medicare Part D “donut hole” gap in prescription drug coverage:

• You will receive a $250 rebate for prescription drugs if you fall in the donut hole this year.

• You will receive a 50 percent discount on all brand-name drugs while in the donut hole beginning next year.

• The donut hole will be phased out over the next ten years, and will be completely closed by 2020.

If you are a Medicare Advantage recipient:

• Your premiums will decrease over the next 10 years because of a correction to overpayments to certain private plans. Medicare Advantage payments will be calculated based on local health care costs.

• These corrections will not only save seniors $15 billion in premiums, but they will also save taxpayers $132 billion in total.

If you are a senior from a rural county:

• Local care options will improve as primary care doctors and general surgeons are offered incentive bonuses for practicing in rural areas, beginning in 2011.