My Turn: Fight for Medicare Advantage

For the Monitor
Published: 11/5/2021 6:00:07 AM

Seniors deserve access to dependable health care coverage. And that means being connected with the services and benefits that we need without being asked to pay absurd premiums or never-ending out-of-pocket costs, especially when they need it the most.

The only program that does this, by taking the concerns of seniors into account, is Medicare Advantage. This is also why nearly 70,000 seniors in New Hampshire and over 27 million seniors nationwide are concerned that there could be cuts made to this essential program.

Lawmakers in Washington are seeking ways to fund the programs being created in order to respond to economic challenges created by the pandemic. Some have suggested rolling back or eliminating Medicare Advantage benefits. Fortunately, the New Hampshire Congressional delegation is aware of these efforts and is fighting to keep them out of any final compromise spending plan.

Working as a partnership between private insurance and the government, Medicare Advantage allows seniors to go beyond the benefits that are offered through original Medicare. This means seniors have access to services like in-home caregiver support and companion care, which make recovering from illness and injury more manageable.

But what really works about Medicare Advantage is that the program isn’t just dedicated to reactive care, it works to prevent health issues as well.

Through integrated vision, dental and hearing benefits, seniors can access screening services that diagnose conditions before they become serious. In addition, MA coverage plans connected people with wellness programs.

As a state lawmaker who serves on the House Finance Committee, programs like this catch my attention because of the return on the investment of funds. This program keeps costs manageable and access available without breaking the bank.

I have come to see the benefits of Medicare Advantage both as a lawmaker and as a patient. As I am fighting an aggressive form of cancer, MA has provided me with affordable medications and access to both tests and treatment that may have been out of reach otherwise. My recovery is partially reliant on the benefits this federal program provides.

From a legislative vantage point and from a personal health perspective, it’s clear from the results of Medicare Advantage that the coverage seniors get goes above and beyond. It’s a comfort, but it should be a reliable “given.”

This program should be what every senior has access to, no matter their health background, which is why the low prices of Medicare Advantage plans make the program even more essential, as every senior can afford the coverage they deserve.

Should there be cuts made to Medicare Advantage, some seniors may be unable to pay for higher-priced premiums, resulting in the loss of coverage for far too many seniors, in New Hampshire and across the country.

With the threat of these conversations in Congress, seniors in New Hampshire are counting on our elected officials to stand up against funding cuts. That’s why we are so thankful to see Sen. Shaheen, Congressman Chris Pappas, Congresswoman Annie Kuster and Sen. Maggie Hassan standing with Medicare Advantage beneficiaries and signing on to a letter issuing support for the program.

I have had the benefit of connecting with them all directly to urge them to protect the benefits of Medicare Advantage and fight back against any call to restrict access or cut funding to this critical program.

Now is when we need additional members of Congress to join New Hampshire’s delegation and stand up for senior health care and I am hopeful that other representatives will follow our delegation’s lead in defending this essential service.

Seniors deserve and count on quality health care through Medicare Advantage.

(Katherine Rogers of Concord represents Merrimack District 28 in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.)

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