Florida Alliance for Retired Americans on Healthcare Reform
Affordable Elder Health Care
Affordable health care for all elder Floridians is at the heart of a contented retirement. But far too often, our seniors and all Americans live just one serious illness away from financial ruin. Health care should not be based on what’s best for the business but what’s best for the people. That is why FLARA supports the Single Payer National Health Care proposal as our most important health goal. Also known as the United States National Health Insurance Act, the plan presented by Sen. John Conyers of Michigan, would essentially expand Medicare to cover everyone, with the federal government negotiating rates for all Americans just as it does now for seniors. The program will lower the cost of health care in several ways. It allows for the biggest possible risk pool and eliminates the inefficient layers of billing and processing that exist in today’s private insurance system. It benefits employers by eliminating the need for companies to provide health care plans to their employees. Additionally, it ends health care as a profit-driven enterprise available based only on peoples’ ability to pay.
FLARA supports the passage of the United States National Insurance Act as proposed in Sen. Conyers bill, H.R. 676.
Until such a system exists, FLARA must urge continued improvements to the existing health care system. One of the most important improvements to seniors is the need for comprehensive and affordable prescription drug coverage under Medicare Part D. Getting a prescription drug plan under Medicare was only a first step. Far too many seniors still must make choices about whether to fill costly prescriptions, especially when they reach the so-called “doughnut hole” and are required to pay the full cost of those prescriptions. A 2007 study of Medicare enrollees showed that 1 in 4 reached the coverage gap that year, and 22 percent of those remained in that gap for the remainder of the year. The study by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that among people with chronic conditions, including Alzheimer’s, diabetes and depression, the number reaching the coverage gap is closer to 50 percent. The results, the study showed, are people switching medication, reducing their dosages or stopping treatment all together.
Another crucial aspect of good health is having access to information. FLARA supports the continued efforts of the Florida Department of Elder Affairs to provide timely and accurate information on health care services. This includes programs to alert elders of such chronic long-term disabling conditions as osteoporosis, diabetes and Alzheimer’s Disease. FLARA also supports wellness programs and other means to provide early detection of health issues such as screenings for prostate, breast and other forms of cancer. Early detection saves money and lives.
FLARA urges and expansion of elder health care resources to ensure that elders understand critical and timely wellness programs, including the importance of a sound diet to maintain good health and independence.
Here are two videos from FLARA on the subject: