Election-year rumors continue to swirl around the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and particularly its impact on Medicare.
Retired director of the Ohio Department of Aging, Barbara Riley, says health care reform is helping seniors stay healthy and bringing down costs. She adds that seniors have better access to affordable prescription drugs and can get preventive services such as cancer screenings with no co-pay or deductible. Riley also points out that under the ACA, seniors will receive the same guaranteed Medicare benefits.
“Aging well is all about being able to stay healthy and active, and Medicare has done a pretty good job and will continue to do a good job of treating us, once we’re ill and need care. But those preventive services, that prescription coverage, should be important to all of us,” Riley said.
The health care law instituted a number of changes to try to bring down future health care costs in the program. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the total anticipated savings come to $716 billion over the next 10 years.
Some have discussed a repeal of the ACA, including Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Riley says if that happens, seniors would lose these important benefits, and many would not be able to afford the services and medications that keep them healthy.
Critics also warn that the ACA cuts more than $700 billion from Medicare. Riley disagrees, explaining that what it really does is reduce the growth of the program by reducing subsidies to insurance companies, with no cuts in services.
“You’re talking about constraints on insurance companies and their ratios of what they have to spend on actual care versus actual administration. Therefore, the cuts occurring are not cuts in services to those who are on Medicare.”
Additionally, there will also be increases in efforts to capture fraud in the Medicare system, which Riley says will also result in savings for beneficiaries.