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Letter on GOP Opposition to Medicare Cuts

January 24, 2017

The Honorable Lamar Alexander
455 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC   20510

Dear Senator Alexander:

On behalf of the 1,235,157 Medicare beneficiaries who live in Tennessee, I urge you to oppose proposals receiving serious consideration that would repeal Medicare improvements in the Affordable Care Act, privatize Medicare, raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and block grant Medicaid.  Given the narrow majority in the Senate – and your interest in protecting Tennessee seniors – your influence could help to stop legislation that would significantly reduce health care coverage and increase out-of-pocket costs for older Americans.  Attached is a Huffington Post op-ed I recently wrote that specifically mentions the key role you could play in standing up for the future retirement security of America’s workers.
 
The ACA improved Medicare benefits and extended the solvency of the Part A Hospital Insurance Trust Fund by more than a decade.  Because the ACA is closing the prescription drug donut hole, 108,136 Tennessee seniors saved $112 million on drugs in 2016 -- an average of $1,034 per beneficiary.  In total, seniors in the Volunteer state have saved $543 million on prescription drug costs since the ACA became law.

The health care law also added coverage of an annual wellness visit and eliminated copays for preventive services like cancer screenings. In 2016 alone, 740,463 Tennessee seniors – or 74.0 percent of all seniors in the state – took advantage of at least one free preventive service.

If Medicare improvements are taken away by the repeal of the ACA, prescription drug costs paid by older Tennesseans would increase an average of $1,000 a year and they would be saddled with 20 percent copayments on an annual wellness visit and for other preventive services. 

I am also troubled by “premium support” proposals to privatize Medicare.  Under previous privatization plans, beneficiaries would not enroll in the current program; rather, they would receive a capped payment or voucher to be used to purchase private health insurance or traditional Medicare. Private plans would have to provide benefits that are at least actuarially equivalent to the benefit package provided by fee-for-service Medicare, but they could manipulate their plans to attract the youngest and healthiest seniors. This would leave traditional Medicare with older and sicker beneficiaries whose higher health costs would lead to higher premiums that they and others may be unable or unwilling to afford, reducing the fee for service risk pool even further resulting in a death spiral for traditional Medicare.

The National Committee opposes raising the Medicare eligibility age because the proposal would increase costs for millions of older Americans. Absent the guarantees in the ACA, such as requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions and limiting age rating, millions of seniors 65 and 66 without Medicare would find private insurance unaffordable. Raising the eligibility age would also increase average costs for Medicare as younger, healthier seniors are eliminated from the risk pool and costs are spread across an older, less-healthy population.

Efforts underway in the 115th Congress to block grant Medicaid, cap Medicaid payments on a per-beneficiary basis (per capita caps) and/or repeal the ACA’s Medicaid expansion should be opposed. These policies financially hurt states and lead to states cutting services, quality and eligibility for the most vulnerable of our senior population, particularly over 146,200 – or 17 percent of – seniors in Tennessee who receive Medicaid long-term services and supports.

Many seniors would not be able to absorb the loss of coverage and increase in their costs that would occur if these proposals became law.  In fact, half of all Medicare beneficiaries in 2014 had incomes below $24,150 and Medicare households spent over two times more than the average American household on out-of-pocket health care costs.

It is time to slam the brakes on legislation to repeal Medicare improvements in the Affordable Care Act, privatize Medicare, raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and block grant Medicaid.  With your influence in the Senate, you could help to prevent millions of seniors and people with disabilities from being hurt by these proposals. 

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss protecting these essential programs for Tennessee seniors and all current and future retirees.

Sincerely,

Max Richtman
President and CEO  

January 24, 2017

The Honorable Susan Collins
413 Dirksen Senate Office Building
Washington, DC   20510

Dear Senator Collins:

On behalf of the 306,420 Medicare beneficiaries who live in Maine, I urge you to oppose proposals receiving serious consideration that would repeal Medicare improvements in the Affordable Care Act, privatize Medicare, raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and block grant Medicaid.  Given the narrow majority in the Senate – and your interest in protecting Maine seniors – your influence could help to stop legislation that would significantly reduce health care coverage and increase out-of-pocket costs for older Americans.  Attached is a Huffington Post op-ed I recently wrote that specifically mentions the key role you could play in standing up for the future retirement security of America’s workers. 

The ACA improved Medicare benefits and extended the solvency of the Part A Hospital Insurance Trust Fund by more than a decade.  Because the ACA is closing the prescription drug donut hole, 18,792 Maine seniors saved $20 million on drugs in 2016 -- an average of $1,059 per beneficiary.  In total, seniors in the Pine Tree state have saved $87 million on prescription drug costs since the ACA became law.

The health care law also added coverage of an annual wellness visit and eliminated copays for preventive services like cancer screenings. In 2016 alone, 216,090 Maine seniors – or 70.4 percent of all seniors in the state – took advantage of at least one free preventive service.

If Medicare improvements are taken away by the repeal of the ACA, prescription drug costs paid by older Mainers would increase an average of $1,000 a year and they would be saddled with 20 percent copayments on an annual wellness visit and for other preventive services. 

I am also troubled by “premium support” proposals to privatize Medicare.  Under previous privatization plans, beneficiaries would not enroll in the current program; rather, they would receive a capped payment or voucher to be used to purchase private health insurance or traditional Medicare. Private plans would have to provide benefits that are at least actuarially equivalent to the benefit package provided by fee-for-service Medicare, but they could manipulate their plans to attract the youngest and healthiest seniors. This would leave traditional Medicare with older and sicker beneficiaries whose higher health costs would lead to higher premiums that they and others may be unable or unwilling to afford, reducing the fee for service risk pool even further resulting in a death spiral for traditional Medicare.

The National Committee opposes raising the Medicare eligibility age because the proposal would increase costs for millions of older Americans. Absent the guarantees in the ACA, such as requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions and limiting age rating, millions of seniors 65 and 66 without Medicare would find private insurance unaffordable. Raising the eligibility age would also increase average costs for Medicare as younger, healthier seniors are eliminated from the risk pool and costs are spread across an older, less-healthy population.

Efforts underway in the 115th Congress to block grant Medicaid, cap Medicaid payments on a per-beneficiary basis (per capita caps) and/or repeal the ACA’s Medicaid expansion should be opposed. These policies financially hurt states and lead to states cutting services, quality and eligibility for the most vulnerable of our senior population, particularly over 67,300 – or 31 percent of – seniors in Maine who receive Medicaid long-term services and supports.

Many seniors would not be able to absorb the loss of coverage and increase in their costs that would occur if these proposals became law.  In fact, half of all Medicare beneficiaries in 2014 had incomes below $24,150 and Medicare households spent over two times more than the average American household on out-of-pocket health care costs.

It is time to slam the brakes on legislation to repeal Medicare improvements in the Affordable Care Act, privatize Medicare, raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and block grant Medicaid.  With your influence in the Senate, you could help to prevent millions of seniors and people with disabilities from being hurt by these proposals. 

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss protecting these essential programs for Maine seniors and all current and future retirees.
 
Sincerely,

Max Richtman
President and CEO 

January 24, 2017

The Honorable Charles Grassley
135 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington, DC   20510

Dear Senator Grassley:

On behalf of the 571,956 Medicare beneficiaries who live in Iowa, I urge you to oppose proposals receiving serious consideration that would repeal Medicare improvements in the Affordable Care Act, privatize Medicare, raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and block grant Medicaid.  Given the narrow majority in the Senate – and your interest in protecting Iowa seniors – your influence could help to stop legislation that would significantly reduce health care coverage and increase out-of-pocket costs for older Americans.  Attached is a Huffington Post op-ed I recently wrote that specifically mentions the key role you could play in standing up for the future retirement security of America’s workers. 

The ACA improved Medicare benefits and extended the solvency of the Part A Hospital Insurance Trust Fund by more than a decade.  Because the ACA is closing the prescription drug donut hole, 51,596 Iowa seniors saved $54 million on drugs in 2016 -- an average of $1,058 per beneficiary.  In total, seniors in the Hawkeye state have saved $268 million on prescription drug costs since the ACA became law.

The health care law also added coverage of an annual wellness visit and eliminated copays for preventive services like cancer screenings. In 2016 alone, 442,508 Iowa seniors – or 74.8 percent of all seniors in the state – took advantage of at least one free preventive service.

If Medicare improvements are taken away by the repeal of the ACA, prescription drug costs paid by older Iowans would increase an average of $1,000 a year and they would be saddled with 20 percent copayments on an annual wellness visit and for other preventive services. 

I am also troubled by “premium support” proposals to privatize Medicare.  Under previous privatization plans, beneficiaries would not enroll in the current program; rather, they would receive a capped payment or voucher to be used to purchase private health insurance or traditional Medicare. Private plans would have to provide benefits that are at least actuarially equivalent to the benefit package provided by fee-for-service Medicare, but they could manipulate their plans to attract the youngest and healthiest seniors. This would leave traditional Medicare with older and sicker beneficiaries whose higher health costs would lead to higher premiums that they and others may be unable or unwilling to afford, reducing the fee for service risk pool even further resulting in a death spiral for traditional Medicare.

The National Committee opposes raising the Medicare eligibility age because the proposal would increase costs for millions of older Americans. Absent the guarantees in the ACA, such as requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions and limiting age rating, millions of seniors 65 and 66 without Medicare would find private insurance unaffordable. Raising the eligibility age would also increase average costs for Medicare as younger, healthier seniors are eliminated from the risk pool and costs are spread across an older, less-healthy population.

Efforts underway in the 115th Congress to block grant Medicaid, cap Medicaid payments on a per-beneficiary basis (per capita caps) and/or repeal the ACA’s Medicaid expansion should be opposed. These policies financially hurt states and lead to states cutting services, quality and eligibility for the most vulnerable of our senior population, particularly over 44,300 – or 10 percent of – seniors in Iowa who receive Medicaid long-term services and supports.
Many seniors would not be able to absorb the loss of coverage and increase in their costs that would occur if these proposals became law.  In fact, half of all Medicare beneficiaries in 2014 had incomes below $24,150 and Medicare households spent over two times more than the average American household on out-of-pocket health care costs.
It is time to slam the brakes on legislation to repeal Medicare improvements in the Affordable Care Act, privatize Medicare, raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and block grant Medicaid.  With your influence in the Senate, you could help to prevent millions of seniors and people with disabilities from being hurt by these proposals. 

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss protecting these essential programs for Iowa seniors and all current and future retirees.
 
Sincerely,

Max Richtman
President and CEO 

January 24, 2017

The Honorable John McCain
218 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC   20510

Dear Senator McCain:

On behalf of the 1,134,774 Medicare beneficiaries who live in Arizona, I urge you to oppose proposals receiving serious consideration that would repeal Medicare improvements in the Affordable Care Act, privatize Medicare, raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and block grant Medicaid.  Given the narrow majority in the Senate – and your interest in protecting Arizona seniors – your influence could help to stop legislation that would significantly reduce health care coverage and increase out-of-pocket costs for older Americans.  Attached is a Huffington Post op-ed I recently wrote that specifically mentions the key role you could play in standing up for the future retirement security of America’s workers. 

The ACA improved Medicare benefits and extended the solvency of the Part A Hospital Insurance Trust Fund by more than a decade.  Because the ACA is closing the prescription drug donut hole, 94,103 Arizona seniors saved $98 million on drugs in 2016 -- an average of $1,047 per beneficiary.  In total, seniors in the Grand Canyon state have saved $470 million on prescription drug costs since the ACA became law.

The health care law also added coverage of an annual wellness visit and eliminated copays for preventive services like cancer screenings. In 2016 alone, 648,452 Arizona seniors – or 69.8 percent of all seniors in the state – took advantage of at least one free preventive service.

If Medicare improvements are taken away by the repeal of the ACA, prescription drug costs paid by older Arizonians would increase an average of $1,000 a year and they would be saddled with 20 percent copayments on an annual wellness visit and for other preventive services. 

I am also troubled by “premium support” proposals to privatize Medicare.  Under previous privatization plans, beneficiaries would not enroll in the current program; rather, they would receive a capped payment or voucher to be used to purchase private health insurance or traditional Medicare. Private plans would have to provide benefits that are at least actuarially equivalent to the benefit package provided by fee-for-service Medicare, but they could manipulate their plans to attract the youngest and healthiest seniors. This would leave traditional Medicare with older and sicker beneficiaries whose higher health costs would lead to higher premiums that they and others may be unable or unwilling to afford, reducing the fee for service risk pool even further resulting in a death spiral for traditional Medicare.

The National Committee opposes raising the Medicare eligibility age because the proposal would increase costs for millions of older Americans. Absent the guarantees in the ACA, such as requiring insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing medical conditions and limiting age rating, millions of seniors 65 and 66 without Medicare would find private insurance unaffordable. Raising the eligibility age would also increase average costs for Medicare as younger, healthier seniors are eliminated from the risk pool and costs are spread across an older, less-healthy population.

Efforts underway in the 115th Congress to block grant Medicaid, cap Medicaid payments on a per-beneficiary basis (per capita caps) and/or repeal the ACA’s Medicaid expansion should be opposed. These policies financially hurt states and lead to states cutting services, quality and eligibility for the most vulnerable of our senior population, particularly over 90,000 – or 9 percent of – seniors in Arizona who receive Medicaid long-term services and supports.

Many seniors would not be able to absorb the loss of coverage and increase in their costs that would occur if these proposals became law.  In fact, half of all Medicare beneficiaries in 2014 had incomes below $24,150 and Medicare households spent over two times more than the average American household on out-of-pocket health care costs.
It is time to slam the brakes on legislation to repeal Medicare improvements in the Affordable Care Act, privatize Medicare, raise the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 and block grant Medicaid.  With your influence in the Senate, you could help to prevent millions of seniors and people with disabilities from being hurt by these proposals. 

I would welcome the opportunity to meet with you to discuss protecting these essential programs for Arizona seniors and all current and future retirees.
 
Sincerely,


 
Max Richtman
President and CEO 



   

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