U.S. Representative Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) was presented with the “Spring 2015 Medicare Part B Patient Access Champion Award” by The Alliance for Patient Access (AfPA), a national non-profit network of physicians, for his work to protect Medicare patients’ rights.
“Our seniors are often among the most vulnerable when it comes to cutting costs for health care plans,” said Denham. “I am honored to receive this award and will continue to fight for the preservation of crucial programs like Medicare in order to protect our seniors’ healthcare coverage here in the Central Valley and across the nation.”
The Award is given to individuals who have taken an active role in protecting patients who rely on physician-administered medicines under Medicare Part B.
Recently, Denham re-introduced his Seniors’ Right to Know Act, H.R. 626, which 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 (ACA). The bill is geared toward informing seniors of when and why their MA plans are being changed.
In 2014, 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 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 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 ACA, there was a $300 billion funding cut to these plans and 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 earn 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.
According to Brian Kennedy, AfPA Executive Director, the Award Denham was presented with is in recognition of his past work to protect patients by opposing Part B cuts and safeguarding the program against policy changes that would make potentially life-saving treatments more difficult for patients to access.
The AfPA, founded in 2006, is dedicated to ensuring patient access to approved therapies and appropriate clinical care. The group works to recruit, train and mobilize policy-minded physicians to effectively advocate for patient access.
Full bill text is available here.