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Medicare Advantage (Photo: Flickr)

OPINION: Biden’s Proposed Cuts To Medicare Advantage Threaten Access To Affordable, Quality Healthcare

Funding changes could lead to premiums that are more than $900 per year higher for Nevadans–the largest increase in the country

By James Lamb, March 8, 2023 11:44 am

This past summer, a study was released examining how self-reported happiness was growing with age. The main explanation was that as people get older, they are more concerned with their quality of life rather than the number of years they have left.

That’s why it’s so crucial to practice healthy habits and take preventative health measures seriously as you get older. I’m lucky to still be in great health and I thank my Medicare Advantage enrollment as a contributing factor. Unfortunately, recent proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage from the Biden Administration threaten my access to affordable, high-quality health care. 

A significant feature of Medicare Advantage compared to original Medicare is the focus on preventative care. My plan offers a comprehensive range of preventative benefits including reminders and incentives for getting regularly tested and screened for common ailments, like heart disease and colon cancer. Medical professionals advise me on how often I need certain tests, so I never have to guess when I need which screening.

Although Medicare Advantage already caps out-of-pocket costs and covers certain dental, vision, and hearing check-ups and cleanings, my plan gives me a health spending account I can use to pay additional out-of-pocket expenses that come up from these visits. For instance, I recently got a crown fitted at the dentist’s office, and I used the benefit to pay the small out-of-pocket fee. It’s refreshing to have your health plan come up with new, innovative ways of giving you affordable care. These additional benefits and low-cost services are at risk because of the proposed funding cuts from Biden’s Administration. 

That’s worrisome because not only do its preventative health measures extend and improve quality of life, but Medicare Advantage provides great value for both the enrollee and the government. Less time spent in the hospital, less invasive procedures needed, and more healthy seniors mean much more effective use of government spending. That’s why Medicare Advantage is a strong bi-partisan program with support from both sides of the aisle. I’m proud to have champions of this program from Nevada. Medicare Advantage is such a popular program, 79 percent of seniors says it’s important for the Biden Administration to protect funding for this program, which includes a bipartisan majority of voters.  

For rural Nevadans, finding consistent access to doctors, providers, or care in their network has largely been a headache in the past. Medicare Advantage takes all of its enrollees into account by offering telehealth benefits, virtual programming like fitness classes, and even transportation benefits to and from appointments. The Biden administration should know how crucial this care is for rural Nevadans who historically have been overlooked in the health care conversation. Cuts may threaten access to care for vulnerable populations including the four million rural enrollees the program currently serves. 

A recent study by health care consulting and analytics firm Avalere Health states that funding changes could lead to premiums that are more than $900 per year higher for Nevadans — the largest increase in the country — or to deep cuts in benefits–affecting more than 250,000 seniors in Nevada.

Even healthcare providers are concerned about these cuts, with the American Medical Association stating, “ This proposal likely will reduce payments to plans, and ultimately providers who care for [patients] with chronic conditions,” the American Medical Group Association added in its own letter.

I hope President Biden and his administration hear Nevadans success stories with the Medicare Advantage program, and also hear our worries about how the proposed cuts would affect them. Being healthy is a lot less expensive than health care, and America should continue to promote getting in front of health problems by protecting Medicare Advantage. 


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