U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) recently introduced legislation to help inform seniors of changes to their Medicare Advantage plans as a result of the Affordable Care Act.
“I believe seniors have the right to know why their health coverage is being negatively affected,” said Denham.
The Seniors’ Right to Know Act would amend a portion of the Social Security Act to establish time-sensitive guidelines requiring Medicare Advantage (MA) providers to notify enrollees if their health care plan changes to comply with the Affordable Care Act.
Last year, nearly 16 million seniors were enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans with expectations of growth in the coming years.
"This common sense legislation will serve to inform affected seniors about the changes that will be made to their plans under ACA regulations,” said Denham. “Seniors have the right to know how their health care is being affected.”
According to most recent numbers pertaining to Stanislaus County, nearly 62,000 residents are ages 65 and above for a total of 11.7 percent; of that group, there are upwards of 31,000 seniors currently enrolled in Medicare Advantage (MA).
Previously, plans under MA included steps to help protect seniors from bankruptcy as a result of complicated medical conditions by limiting out-of-pocket costs. As a result of the Affordable Care Act, there was a $300 billion funding cut to these plans in addition to a new health insurance tax that resulted in cancelled or reduced benefits, and increases in co-pays.
This year, Central Valley seniors could face cost increases of $90 per month, or $1,080 annually as MA plans are set to change with increases barring many seniors from participating in the MA program entirely. A large portion of Central Valley MA enrollees are low-income individuals earning less than $20,000 per year.
Denham argued that this is the wrong direction for the U.S. stating that ACA isn’t working as it was promised, as true reform, as consumers are forced to absorb costs incurred by the law’s shortcomings.
“Adding taxes and cutting funding for Medicare Advantage programs is causing our seniors to suffer when 9 out of 10 seniors were originally satisfied with their MA coverage,” said Denham.
This Bill was previously introduced as H.R. 4201 with the support of the 60+ Association and the Association of Mature American Citizens.
Full bill text is available here.