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Letter to the editor: Affordable Care Act hurt by misinformation

Posted: Wednesday, Sep 26th, 2012

I would like to attempt to clarify what Iím hearing nationally and locally.

President Barack Obama did not steal $716 billion from Medicare to support the Affordable Care Act. The program is not being gutted.

The cuts we are hearing about will come from eliminating a massive subsidy to private insurers and gradually reduce the rate of growth in payments to some providers. These changes, while not catastrophic for Medicare, are certainly newsworthy.

Under the Affordable Care Act, the government will substantially reduce the amount it spends funding Medicare Advantage plans (very few participants in Wyoming), which are privately administered insurance plans offered to Medicare beneficiaries. Nearly 25 percent of Medicare recipients nationwide are enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans.

In theory, these plans are supposed to manage health-care spending better than fee-forĖservice Medicare. They, in fact, have not saved the government money. The cost per patient is about 14 percent more than traditional Medicare. The new ACA eliminates this subsidy and requires Medicare Advantage payments to spend 85 percent of their premiums on beneficiaries and illustrate quality improvement.

Another amount of money that gets cut from Medicare under the ACA comes from providers. Hospitals, home health agencies and others will see Medicare payments reduced and growing more slowly than they have in the past. These and other changes will help lower health care costs.

Medicare beneficiaries, who are already enrolled, will see many positives including preventative care and will essentially continue with their coverage with some quality improvements.

The misinformation that the Affordable Care Act will change Medicare, as we know it, is untrue and should not scare our seniors into irrational decisions. Medicare will remain an extremely popular system that provides comprehensive health coverage to thousands of Wyomingites and others in our nation.

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