I worked in public service for over 40 years, first as an educator and coach, and then as a Racine County deputy and sheriff, and finally as county executive. I am proud to have given back to the community that has given so much to me over the years.
One of my priorities as county executive was to deliver quality, affordable, health care in our community. Inheriting a deficit, I worked to launch a city-county health center for local government employees in collaboration with the city of Racine and a local health care provider that saved nearly $200,000 per year. I also worked with the city of Racine, a major Racine employer, and former U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan to bring a community health clinic for underserved populations to our area. Knowing how important a healthy population is to the workforce, I did everything I could to ensure my constituents had the best access to care. And when I retired from public service and it was finally time for me to focus on my own health care, I’m glad Medicare Advantage was offered to me.
Admittedly, I was skeptical at first when I heard Medicare Advantage was part of my retirement benefits. However, I soon came to realize that there is a reason why over 26 million American seniors choose this program, and I am now one of the program’s biggest proponents.
I receive comprehensive health care coverage through my plan, including prescription drug coverage, vision, hearing and dental. In addition, I can access other preventative health programs that encourage me to stay healthy, like wellness programs and fitness classes — which I utilize often. And this year, the average monthly premium for Medicare Advantage policyholders is expected to decrease to just $21, even as the program provides all of the above services.
Over 26 million Americans rely on Medicare Advantage for the peace of mind the program provides. In addition to having a low monthly copay, Medicare Advantage caps out-of-pocket costs and lowers prescription drug costs. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, I didn’t have to worry about how I would access my health care. Medicare Advantage plans stepped up to ensure that seniors had access to the health care services we need the most. Expanded coverage for telehealth services has made it possible for seniors to receive care for ongoing health issues.
Last year, I met with U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil to voice my support for the Medicare Advantage program. He told me that it was easy for him to sign onto a House Medicare Advantage support letter because it’s clear how many Americans value the program. And he wasn’t the only one. Over 400 bipartisan members of Congress signed onto letters in support of the program, as it is widely regarded as an affordable and effective health insurance option for many seniors, including those who live on limited budgets.
As a former county executive, I value health care plans that take care of those that rely on them for their health care needs. Medicare Advantage has gone above and beyond, and I hope that Wisconsin’s representatives in Congress on both sides of the aisle stand up in support of this vital program in 2021.