Letter: We need elected officials to support Medicare Advantage

September 11, 2023

Originally published in PennLive

In his nearly two decades in office, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey has distinguished himself as a level-headed policymaker with a tendency of working across the aisle to do right by his constituents. As Chairman of the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Casey has routinely championed programs that improve the health of seniors and lower their prescription costs. And as an advocate for affordable health coverage, Casey has notably worked to promote and protect Medicare Advantage—ensuring that more than 31 million older adults and individuals with disabilities have access to high-quality, cost-saving health care coverage.

There is a reason Medicare Advantage has received overwhelming bipartisan support. For more than a decade, the average premium of the program has declined, with the program now sporting an average premium of only $18 a month, a figure that won’t break seniors’ budgets. Plus, Medicare Advantage offers significant benefits that original Medicare lacks, such as a cap on out-of-pocket costs and integrated vision, hearing and dental benefits. With this combination of affordability and access, it’s no wonder this program is one of the few things Washington’s leaders have been able to agree on.

As a senior on Medicare Advantage myself, I have found this program to consistently go above and beyond in the benefits it offers. Although I consider myself an active person and have generally been in good health, I realize that as I get older I need to be more proactive in taking care of myself. Because of Medicare Advantage’s focus on preventative care services, I have access to wide-scale tests and resources used to identify ailments and chronic conditions early. Through routine screenings and exams, this service has saved millions in taxpayer money from unnecessary hospital trips.

At the same time, having extensive access to unique benefits like prescription delivery services and telehealth doctors’ appointments has given me peace of mind. It’s nice to know I have these resources readily available at my fingertips should I have an unexpected health scare.

At a time when many in Congress are looking to cut federal costs, any number of programs could be on the chopping block. However, by leveraging his bipartisan bona fides, Sen. Casey has worked to ensure the safety of one of our nation’s most important health care programs from cuts.

Earlier this year, his leadership was demonstrated when he collaborated with other senators to issue a bipartisan endorsement of Medicare Advantage’s renewal. Within the letter, Sen. Casey and his colleagues advocated for the program to be strengthened to ensure its long-term sustainability.

Actions like these prove Sen. Casey’s unwavering commitment to Pennsylvania’s 1.4 million seniors enrolled in Medicare Advantage.

As our nation’s demographics continue to shift, it is essential that we have leaders like Sen. Casey who understand the unique challenges faced by seniors. His efforts have not only improved access to affordable health care but also brought peace of mind to millions of older Americans, knowing that their health and well-being are a priority in the halls of Congress.

Mary James is a resident of Dauphin County.