Letter: Fetterman’s fight for affordable health care

September 11, 2023

Originally published in the Tribune Review

Ranked fifth in the country by its size of seniors, Pennsylvania is home to over 2.2 million older Americans. As the population of seniors grows 20 times faster than the state’s general population, it is more important than ever that Pennsylvania has representatives who advocate on behalf of seniors’ needs and issues.

Fortunately, Sen. John Fetterman has quickly taken on this role in a big way. By showing his ardent support for Medicare Advantage early in his tenure, Fetterman has demonstrated that he will be a committed fighter for the 1.4 million Pennsylvanians on the program.

While not a senior himself, Fetterman understands the health needs of millions on Medicare Advantage more than most in Congress. As a stroke survivor who still addresses the impacts caused by that life event, he knows the high costs that often accompany treating an ailment or disability.

After his own health scare, Fetterman was outspoken about his regret for avoiding the doctor and not properly addressing his underlying health issues. As an advocate with personal experience in the matter, his support for Medicare Advantage has gone a long way in making sure people have access to the preventative care they need. Through its focus on testing, identifying, and treating chronic conditions early, Medicare Advantage has been a life-saving resource and prevented millions from unnecessary hospital trips.

Without breaking budgets, Medicare Advantage offers additional benefits that original Medicare simply doesn’t provide, like wide-ranging prescription drug coverage often at no additional cost, in addition to in-home caregiver support and telehealth. In fact, according to the Medicare Payment Advisory Committee, the average 2023 Medicare Advantage enrollee has access to over $2,350 in extra benefits. By receiving high-quality treatment in the comfort of their own home, these benefits have made a world of difference for disabled individuals and seniors who struggle to walk or travel. It’s no surprise that 30 million Americans—roughly half of the people eligible — are enrolled in the program.

Unlike original Medicare, Medicare Advantage offers integrated vision, hearing and dental care, allowing for more predictable expenses and comprehensive care. The program also offers a cap on out-of-pocket expenses, meaning enrollees don’t have to stress about unexpected medical costs. At a small monthly premium of $18 a month on average, these benefits come at a lower cost than original Medicare plans. By being both low-cost and comprehensive in care, Medicare Advantage has been one of the most effective programs available and a lifeline for millions of seniors and those with disabilities.

Pennsylvania’s seniors and disabled individuals are fortunate to have a dedicated advocate who empathizes and fights for them. Thank you, Sen. John Fetterman, for fighting to strengthen and renew Medicare Advantage. In a short matter of time, you have cemented a legacy as an advocate for preventative care and disabled Americans. Your efforts to keep our state’s seniors healthy and financially strong do not go unnoticed.

Dr. A. Jay Gross is a Medicare Advantage enrollee from Western Pennsylvania.