LETTER: Congress should protect funds for health plans seniors rely on

Feb. 21, 2014 @ 05:00 AM

To the Editor:

As a retired registered nurse, I know the importance of good health care. I am concerned for myself and other seniors who rely on Medicare Advantage plans now that billions of dollars have been cut from this program. If more cuts are proposed, our health care plans will likely be threatened. We need the support of our legislators in Washington to keep Medicare Advantage fully funded and safe from any future cuts. Better yet, they should be increasing funding for this vital program.

My own plan is offered through Humana, and I have already seen increases in costs associated with it. More cuts to the Medicare Advantage program would likely drive up out-of-pocket costs even further. It does not seem fair that seniors, especially those of us who are living on a fixed income, should have to pay more out of pocket. Cuts to Medicare Advantage have also meant fewer benefits, like dental, vision and preventative care. In some instances, there are less doctors and hospitals accepting the Advantage plans, so health care becomes less accessible for seniors who need it the most.

I have been retired for 20 years and feel fortunate to be in relatively good health. For senior citizens who are less fortunate, however, fewer health care options and higher costs can really wreak havoc on their quality of life. I truly hope that our elected officials get their priorities straight. It is not fair to hurt those of us who have worked most of our lives and paid into this system by cutting our needed health care programs. Congress must protect funding for the Medicare Advantage program in the event of any further suggested cuts.

Constance Bell