Monday, November 12, 2012

President Obama Has a Second Term - What does it Mean for Seniors?

President Obama's re-election means Medicaid and Medicare will likely be preserved for at least for the next four years and the Affordable Care Act (ACA, a.k.a. Obamacare) will be fully implemented.

When questioning whether the ACA is good for seniors, ask those who have already benefited from parts of the law that are already in effect.  Among these people are seniors who have saved money when they purchased prescription drugs or durable medical goods like wheelchairs and nebulizers, and those who no longer need to pay deductibles for their well visits.

Below are some examples of these and other benefits of the ACA that will affect seniors: 

 • The “Donut Hole” is being eliminated- The gap known as the “Donut Hole,” where seniors have to pay 100% of the cost of their prescription drugs until the other side is reached, is getting smaller each year. By 2020, the donut hole would have grown to $6,000 a year; instead, under the ACA, by 2020, the “Donut Hole” will be gone and seniors will only have to pay their co-payments.

No deductibles for annual wellness visits- As mentioned previously, there are no longer deductibles or co-payments for annual wellness visits. These include basic screenings, such as pelvic exams, pap smears, diabetes screenings, prostate cancer screenings, and others. Removing any disincentive for seniors to get essential preventive care helps make Medicare a more comprehensive health care plan and keeps seniors healthier longer.

New policies for hospital stays- Under the ACA, Medicare will reduce payments to hospitals that are among 25% worst in terms of allowing patients to pick up health conditions they did not have when they entered the hospital. This is a big deal to those exposed to such conditions and their families.

 • “Readmissions Reduction Program”- The "Readmissions Reduction Program" is a payment adjustment in Medicare to encourage hospitals to make sure their patients are ready to leave when they actually leave. It is another effort to make sure you or your loved ones who get out of the hospital go home, stay home, and improve.

Purchase of durable medical goods- There are great savings for seniors in a program in the ACA that opens up the purchase of durable medical goods like wheelchairs, oxygen tanks and nebulizers to competitive bidding. This was initially implemented in limited markets, but it is expanding and is projected to save Americans billions.

According to The Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C., the benefits for seniors noted in the ACA denote progress and true reform, and can provide noticeable savings for the seniors who take advantage of them. We ask that you keep in mind that although Medicare and Medicaid will likely maintain their current structures, cuts can still be made. President Obama will have to work with a Republican majority in the House of Representatives, many of whom want to cut spending and entitlement programs like these. Read more.

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