Letter: Washington Needs to Keep Promises, Protect Medicare Advantage Program

Originally published in the Milwaukee Courier 

For over 27 million seniors like me, Medicare Advantage is a partner not only in providing quality and affordable health care, but in helping us avoid every senior’s fear – that our health and financial security will keep us from enjoying our golden years. With overwhelming support among seniors, and a history of bipartisan support, Medicare Advantage has been lucky enough to be protected by policy makers in Washington – but that could change if seniors don’t make their voices heard.

Medicare Advantage – sometimes called Medicare Part C – itself, is a simple concept. Offering all the benefits and more of original Medicare, Medicare Advantage gives seniors choices in additional benefits and coverages that aren’t offered by original Medicare for a small, or at no additional premium, over original Medicare. Advantage plans offer benefits like eye and dental coverage, preventative nurse and doctor visits, in home and virtual care, free vaccinations, drug benefits and even free gym memberships. Additionally, seniors typically get to choose from dozens of plans with a variety of benefits that fit our lifestyle and health needs.

While all these options are great, one of the driving reasons so many seniors decide to enroll in this program is that with a Medicare Advantage plan – unlike original Medicare – our yearly out-of-pocket costs are capped. So, for the tens of millions of seniors who live on fixed income, we can have the peace of mind knowing our care won’t drain our retirement savings or force us to choose between medical care and other necessities.

In Wisconsin, the Medicare Advantage program is so popular that over 500,000 seniors trust our health to the program. But we seniors need to stay vigilant and hold our policy makers in Washington accountable. Although Medicare Advantage has seen overwhelming bipartisan support in Congress, some have brought up the idea of cutting funding to Medicare Advantage, potentially putting many of us in a concerning situation.

While Congress is debating legislation like the infrastructure bill and the Build Back Better plan, Washington needs to know we seniors are not piggy banks. We worked our entire adult lives to make this country what it is and any vision for our country moving forward must include keeping promises to our nation’s seniors. This includes strengthening and protecting the Medicare Advantage program that so many of us have come to rely on. I’m asking Wisconsin’s members of Congress, including my Congresswoman Gwen Moore, to stand up for the Medicare Advantage program.

Betty Speed