Letter: Medicare Advantage supports health care for rural Americans

September 13, 2023

Originally published in the Montana Standard

Health care policy is a perennially hot topic, and with good reason — it’s about the welfare of the people and how the nation takes care of its most vulnerable. When it comes to health care, few programs have been as transformative as Medicare Advantage, a public-private initiative that provides high-quality, low-cost health care for seniors and people with disabilities.

In health care, consumer choice is paramount. While original Medicare offers a one-size-fits-all model that might not be optimal for every senior, Medicare Advantage plans provide a range of options tailored to individual health needs.

Many Medicare Advantage plans go beyond the basic coverage of traditional Medicare. They include comprehensive benefits such as prescription delivery and vision, dental, and hearing coverage. Some even cover wellness programs and virtual fitness classes. These benefits not only improve the quality of life for seniors but also lead to better long-term health outcomes and cost savings.

Medicare Advantage plans also deliver value. These plans often come with a cap on out-of-pocket expenses, providing predictability for seniors on fixed incomes. For those who budget meticulously, knowing there’s a limit to medical expenses for the year can be reassuring.

It is worth noting that Medicare Advantage emphasizes coordinated care as well. This means health care providers work together to manage a patient’s care, ensuring that there’s a continuous focus on managing chronic conditions. This holistic approach can lead to a seamless health care experience for enrollees.

Medicare Advantage plans also invest in cutting-edge technologies and innovative care delivery models. A perfect example of this is telehealth, which allows patients to meet with providers from the comfort of their homes — a benefit that is especially important for rural seniors in a rural state like Montana.

Satisfaction rates among Medicare Advantage beneficiaries are notably high, with 94% of senior voters satisfied with their Medicare Advantage plans. This high approval indicates that the program meets, and often exceeds, the expectations and needs of its enrollees.

What’s more is that it also receives bipartisan support. Earlier this year, Sen. Jon Tester joined 60 of his fellow lawmakers in the Senate and signed a letter to protect Medicare Advantage. Tester’s support means that more than 31 million seniors and people with disabilities in Montana and across our country can enjoy high-quality affordable coverage.

Tester has proven himself to be a steadfast defender of rural Americans and their health. His work to uplift the needs of seniors has not gone unnoticed, and I am hopeful that other elected officials take notice and offer their continued support for Medicare Advantage. Montanans appreciate it.

Rep. Donavon Hawk is from Butte and represents House District 76 in the Montana State Legislature. He served on the House Human Services Committee during the 2023 legislative session.