Guthrie: We Must Protect Options for Our Seniors

We all know that health care has become increasingly complicated, costly, and limited - especially for our nation’s seniors, who rely on a confusing, overly-strained Medicare program to receive their care. While traditional Medicare insures the majority of our nation’s seniors, the Medicare Advantage (MA) program is a growing choice within Medicare, allowing beneficiaries to choose a private plan to administer their Medicare benefits. 

MA plans allow beneficiaries to receive additional services beyond what would be offered under traditional Medicare, such as preventive services, chronic care management, and care coordination.  By receiving a fixed cost to care for the beneficiary, MA plans are able to focus on wellness and managing the patient’s overall health.  Despite providing coverage for a sicker and more complex patient population, MA beneficiaries have overall reduced hospital stays and lowered incidences of emergency services when compared to beneficiaries in traditional fee-for-service Medicare.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) under the current Administration has consistently proposed to cut MA, which would result in fewer choices and reduced benefits for the 17 million seniors who rely on the program.  Over the past few years, I have consistently taken the lead in the U.S. House of Representatives to protect Medicare Advantage.  Working with Florida Democratic Congressman Patrick E. Murphy, we have successfully convinced CMS to roll back their proposed cuts in previous years.  Last week, Rep. Murphy and I led efforts in the House to protect Medicare Advantage in advance of CMS’ 2017 Advance Notice and Draft Call Letter for Medicare Advantage and Part D and we were joined by over 300 of our colleagues from both sides of the aisle.

I regularly hear from Kentuckians about how they benefit from the MA program, by having choices in the care they receive and improved quality. MA’s patient-centered approach to care has produced improved health outcomes for beneficiaries by addressing their unique needs.  I am proud to be a strong champion for our nation’s seniors, especially those who want to continue to enjoy their MA plans and benefits, despite constant attacks from this Administration.

This Congress and the Administration must act to protect a program that has had a positive role in providing affordable and high-quality care to millions of its beneficiaries. In fact, the MA program’s success should act as a model for future reforms across the Medicare program. By offering patient choice, care coordination, and a focus on prevention and wellness, MA plans improve health and lower costs to taxpayers. I will continue to lead the fight for a program that protects our seniors and the most vulnerable.