Oregon State Sen. Riley: Supporting Medicare Advantage is Supporting Seniors

Originally published in the Hillsboro News Times

State Sen. Chuck Riley of Hillsboro, a Democrat representing Senate District 15 in Washington County, serves on the Governor’s Commission on Senior Services.

There is no question that Oregonians have been facing outsized stress over the past years and this has been especially true for many of our senior citizens.

The COVID-19 pandemic, which has caused anxiety for each of us, has been especially dangerous for our senior community. With the heightened threat of serious symptoms and the chance of hospitalization, those older than 65 have felt an extra need to isolate, staying away from family and friends for an extended period of time to protect their health and safety.

That is why I feel fortunate to serve on the Governor’s Commission on Senior Services. I know that we need to continue working to incorporate the needs of seniors in our policy decisions and advocate for the programs and services that help older Oregonians live better, healthier lives.

One such program that I have continued to advocate for is Medicare Advantage. Medicare Advantage is far and away one of the greatest investments we have made in improving the quality of health care for our seniors. By allowing access to additional benefits and services with low premiums and capped out-of-pocket costs, seniors can access the tools they need to enjoy better health outcomes.

To improve the lives of our seniors, we need to provide them with full-service care that not only addresses traditional health benefits but goes above and beyond to meet the individual needs of every patient. Medicare Advantage does just that with coverage for medications and keeping hospital bills low, as well as providing telehealth services, transportation to and from doctors’ appointments, integrated vision, dental and hearing benefits, and prescription drug and grocery deliveries.

Not only is this program effective, it’s also popular. Nearly half of all Oregonians who are Medicare beneficiaries are enrolled in Medicare Advantage programs and Medicare Advantage has a 94% satisfaction rate. Medicare Advantage is important for so many Oregonians because it offers stable, affordable coverage including almost half of low-income and minority beneficiaries and 40% make less than $25,000 a year. In addition, 57% of enrollees are women.

It’s time for us to follow through with our commitment to support seniors. For all that we have asked of them, they deserve to have the benefits of this program. My hope is that Congress will keep up the fight for this program. The 27 million enrolled Medicare Advantage seniors across the country will thank them for it.

Please let your representative in Congress know that you support preservation of the Medicare Advantage program.

State Sen. Chuck Riley of Hillsboro, a Democrat representing Senate District 15 in Washington County, serves on the Governor’s Commission on Senior Services. He recently announced plans to retire from the state Senate.