Originally published in the Miami Herald
Everyone needs and deserves access to healthy and nutritious food. People shouldn’t need to worry if their fridge and pantry shelves will stay stocked to feed themselves and their families. However, far too many individuals know that this just isn’t the case.
And unfortunately, the communities that tend to struggle with food insecurity are also those who are highly vulnerable, namely our seniors.
That is why the mission of Meals on Wheels South Florida is to end hunger across all ages with kindness, dignity and compassion. Our non-profit, volunteer-driven agency provides an essential service that has been helping Florida seniors since 1984 to gain access to the nutrition they deserve.
Working with the organization has made me highly invested in the senior community, which has allowed me to observe the many areas where seniors need assistance from policy and programs.
Unsurprisingly, my work on senior nutrition led me to a greater understanding of senior health. Seniors often struggle to find quality healthcare that’s affordable, but one program has been making major strides in helping seniors access the care that they need.
Medicare Advantage, a public-private partnership that brings good-quality healthcare to seniors, is truly changing lives. Because the program has capped out-of-pocket costs and low premiums, healthcare has never been so well within reach for seniors of any financial situation. The seniors we serve through Meals on Wheels South Florida tend to have very limited finances, and so spending their precious resources on healthcare is often not an option.
With Medicare Advantage, those individuals can gain access to care that one would think costs thousands, but in reality, is highly affordable. Medicare Advantage also offers many services seniors need to feel and stay healthy. The program focuses on both preventative and reactive health, a unique full-circle view of healthcare. Whether an individual needs integrated hearing, vision and dental screenings and care, mental health services, wellness programs and gym memberships, telehealth services, home delivered meals or companion care programs, Medicare Advantage really does have it all available to beneficiaries.
No one should feel their health can’t be a priority, especially seniors, many in fragile health. Programs like Medicare Advantage help eradicate those worries. I was very grateful to see many of Florida’s representatives, including Congressman Carlos Gimenez, recently sign on to a support letter for Medicare Advantage in the House. I am encouraged to know that we have advocates in Congress pushing for senior health. It takes a village to ensure health and safety for all.
Mark Adler is the executive director of Meals on Wheels South Florida, president of Meals on Wheels Florida and secretary of the Florida Hunger Coalition.