During today’s meeting of the Florida Cabinet, Governor Rick Scott discussed the impacts of President Obama’s cuts to the Medicare Advantage program.

Governor Scott said, “President Obama’s administration recently announced cuts to the Medicare Advantage program as part his larger reductions to Medicare. He has decided to push forward with the cuts even though more families are using it, and has increased to nearly 16 million people. Medicare Advantage accounts for 30 percent of total Medicare enrollees, so these cuts are a big deal and impact families in Florida. For many Florida seniors, their primary care doctors and specialists have already been terminated from Medicare Advantage plans.

“In Florida, these cuts will be devastating. More than 1 million Floridians could face higher costs and less access as a result of these cuts. Patients are losing their doctors, their quality of care is decreasing, and their premiums are skyrocketing. The President should stop these cuts that are negatively impacting so many seniors who depend on Medicare Advantage.”

Austin R. Curry, Executive Director of Elder Care Advocacy of Florida said, “The Medicare Advantage program gives patients a quality of life that cannot be obtained otherwise. The intangibles of the Medicare Advantage program; one can’t put a dollar value on it. We are only kidding ourselves if we think you can take money from Peter to pay Paul. We have a program that is extremely beneficial and it’s working. The doctors and medical professionals identify with it. The patients love it. The seniors love it; why change it? The medical community is satisfied.

“What we can’t do is think we can take money out of the right pocket and put it in the left pocket to pay for the thing. We’re kidding ourselves. Why fiddle with a program that is doing so well? Why detract from this beneficial program and minimize the results and benefits in order to go to something that’s unproven? I thank the Governor for his attention to this. What we all need to do is contact our Congress persons saying we cannot tolerate any more cuts in the Medicare Advantage program. It’s a good program. It’s saving money and it’s saving lives.”

Florida Families Impacted

Governor Scott also shared two stories from Floridians who expressed concerns about these cuts.

Myra Bushnell of Clermont was very happy with her Medicare Advantage plan, but this past year, all of that has changed.  Because of cuts to the Medicare Advantage funding, Bushnell’s copays and health costs in general have increased dramatically.  Furthermore, there have been increased cuts to her coverage, and Bushnell and her husband are afraid that if the funding cuts continue their health care costs could go up to almost $400 dollars a month or they could be dropped from coverage entirely. Bushnell fears that one day the federal government will just try and roll everyone into Obamacare, and that is something that scares her.

Ronald Breaux in Orange Park had a Medicare Advantage Plan that worked for a decade, until passage of the Affordable Health Care Act. Breaux and his wife Helen received a letter from their Medicare Advantage insurer in late 2012 notifying them that their physicians would be dropped at the beginning of the year.  By losing their Medicare Advantage Plan, Helen would lose her three heart specialists, which were difficult to replace.  The other alternative was to switch to the Medicare Part B supplemental plan, which would have cost more and provided them with fewer services. The Breaux’s were forced to shop around or risk losing critical health coverage.  After several months, they were able to get another Medicare Advantage plan, but fear the same could happen with their current insurer. As Breaux said, “The Obama Administration said if you like your plan, you can keep your plan – and it all ended up being a big hassle.”

 

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