Reforms shouldn’t come at the expense of seniors

New York’s senior citizens owe a debt of gratitude to Sen. Chuck Schumer. Earlier this year, he worked with the federal agency responsible for Medicare to mitigate proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage, a program that 1 million seniors in New York rely on for quality, affordable health care coverage. These proposed reductions, combined with prior cuts to the program, would have significantly reduced the benefits to which seniors have access through their Medicare Advantage plan.

Thanks in large part to his leadership, significant changes were made that reduced the impact on seniors and helped stabilize the program.

Medicare Advantage plans are helping to improve care for seniors by providing additional benefits and services not available in the traditional fee-for-service portion of Medicare. Seniors choose Medicare Advantage because it keeps their out-of-pocket costs low. It also allows seniors the option to choose a plan and a doctor that fit their specific health needs.

As a community-based plan, Independent Health reaches out to its members to ensure they are receiving the appropriate care and services to maintain and improve their health. For example, Independent Health makes monthly preventive health outreach calls to its members to remind them of the importance of seeing their doctor and getting appropriate preventive screenings and tests. When our members do need hospital care, a care transitions team, developed with our provider partners, has reduced unnecessary readmissions by ensuring members have the support and information they need when they go home.

The recently proposed Medicare Advantage cuts, combined with cuts already scheduled to take effect, would have resulted in beneficiaries facing an average $50 to $90 per month in higher costs and reduced benefits next year. Fortunately, members from Congress in both parties were able to work with the Medicare agency to make changes to its proposal.

The country faces many fiscal challenges, but reforms should not come at the expense of the millions of seniors and people with disabilities who rely on Medicare Advantage plans for their health security.

Michael W. Cropp, M.D.

President and CEO

Independent Health