Originally published in the Rio Grande Guardian
The senior community needs champions.
Despite being one of the most significant voter groups in the country, the senior community often feels ignored when it comes to policy. This happens both in terms of failing to give seniors the space to voice their opinions over what policies they prefer and in ensuring they are made aware of policy decisions happening around them.
Because of this, I have dedicated much of my life to ensuring the best quality of life for seniors and their families by advocating for senior wants and needs, and ensuring their voices are heard where policies are being decided.
One of the greatest successes in the fight for improving the lives of seniors has been widespread enrollment in Medicare Advantage.
Medicare Advantage is the only program that connects seniors with benefits and services that will improve their health and does so without asking for high premiums or absurd out-of-pocket costs.
Through Medicare Advantage, seniors are able to access an array of services that work not only to help them if they get sick but to promote better health outcomes through preventative care as well.
The coverage provided by Medicare Advantage gives seniors access to integrated hearing, vision, and dental benefits, gym memberships, wellness programs, in-home caregiver support, innovative telehealth options, and provides a cap on out-of-pocket costs.
Additionally, the program continues to adapt to meet the current needs of the senior population. During the most challenging months of the pandemic, Medicare Advantage provided beneficiaries with prescription drug and grocery delivery services, allowing seniors to stay healthy while remaining physically safe in the comfort of their homes.
With the extensive benefits the program provides, it is no surprise that 94% of the 27 million seniors currently enrolled are satisfied with their coverage.
When a program is meeting the needs of a community to this extent, we should be doing everything we can to encourage more seniors enroll and continue garnering community support. The more seniors who are made aware of this program, the better we can address senior healthcare needs.
Medicare Advantage is exactly the type of program that should be highlighted by our lawmakers. And yet, there are discussions occurring over potential cuts to the program.
Now, I understand – here in Texas, and across the country, we have a lot of work to do. But if Congress wants to be solving problems, then they shouldn’t be considering making cuts to a program like Medicare Advantage.
Cuts to this program could result in millions of seniors losing access to affordable healthcare coverage. And making cuts to this program would be moving backwards in the fight to improve and enhance the lives of seniors and their families.
I hope Congress remembers their commitment to bettering the lives of American seniors and continues to fight for Medicare Advantage.
Editor’s Note: The above guest column was penned by Viola Hebert, a Registered Nurse based in Tomball, Texas, and a member of the Texas Silver-Haired Legislature.