View From the Capitol - Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler's Newsletter for the Week of October 15-19, 2012
Medicare Open Enrollment began this week, offering our senior citizens important Medicare health care choices. It is important for current Medicare beneficiaries to review their plans annually. Seniors should evaluate their health status as well as the coverage, co-pays, deductibles and other details of their current plans. I firmly believe knowledge is power and that an informed consumer is more likely to pay less and be more satisfied with his or her coverage.
With the Open Enrollment period comes renewed concerns about this vital program. As our society ages and more of our citizens are in need of health care, physicians are cutting back on the number of Medicare patients they treat. This is due to insufficient Medicare reimbursement and increased regulatory burdens. The looming physician shortage coupled with additional pressures from the President’s health care law will only compound this problem.
The 2012 report of the Medicare and Social Security Trustees concluded that without Congressional action, Medicare will become insolvent in 2024. In addition, the 2012 Physicians Foundation Study (Available at http://tinyurl.com/cmfvfgm) found that more than 59 percent of physicians indicate passage of ObamaCare has made them less positive about the future of healthcare in America. The study points out that more than half the physicians surveyed plan to make changes to their practices, including reducing patient access to services. Already, 52 percent of physicians have limited the access that Medicare patients have to health care services or are planning to do so. More than 70 percent of the doctors surveyed believe less government regulation would be a positive solution to addressing costs.
However, there is hope. The plan passed by my House colleagues with my support ensures Medicare remains intact for current and future retirees while putting patients in control of their own health care. Our solution makes no changes for current seniors, while offering guaranteed coverage options to future seniors (those now 55 or younger), regardless of pre-existing conditions or health history. Medicare health plans, including a traditional Medicare option, would compete against each other to be part of this guaranteed issue program and offer higher quality care at lower costs.
Most importantly, our proposal strips Washington bureaucrats of their rationing power and puts patients in control of their own health care decisions. The bottom line is that it is vital that we maintain the Medicare guarantee to deliver services to the seniors of today and future generations. I am hopeful we can advance these changes or other ideas that would accomplish this goal to preserve these important programs for future retirees.
On another matter, October brings with it cooler weather, gorgeous fall colors, and special events like the Apple Festival in Versailles, Heritage Days in Warsaw, and the Pumpkin Festival in Hartsburg. I hope you are having the opportunity to get out with your family to enjoy this special time of year. Missouri’s Fourth Congressional District is beautiful this time of year and one of the great reasons we enjoy calling it home. I know I’m thankful to live here and thankful to have the privilege of serving the great people here in the Heartland.
Have a good week.
Member of Congress