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What Health Reform Means for Older Minnesotans

Since the beginning of the health insurance reform debate, AARP has been fighting in Washington to protect guaranteed Medicare benefits; lower prescription drug costs for seniors; crack down on insurance company abuses; ensure access to doctors and give all Americans more options to live independently at home as they age.

Now that the law has passed, many Minnesotans are looking for answers to their questions about what passed.

“If you feel confused by the new health care law, you’re hardly alone,” said AARP State Director Michele Kimball. “With all the political squabbling in Washington, Minnesotans have heard too little about what the reforms will mean for them and their families and are hungry for nonpartisan information.”

Kimball added, “It’s a safe bet that the new law will affect you, especially if you are a retiree or a boomer in the workforce. “

For Minnesotans 65+, this legislation strengthens Medicare by:

  • Protecting guaranteed Medicare benefits
  • Closing the Medicare Part D coverage gap or “doughnut hole”
  • Providing preventive care, such as screenings for cancer and diabetes, free of charge
  • Improving access to primary care doctors
  • Extending the solvency of Medicare and the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by nearly a decade.

 

No longer will Minnesota’s seniors be forced to choose between paying for basic necessities and filling their prescriptions. In 2010, if a senior reaches the doughnut hole, he or she will receive a rebate for $250 to help pay for prescriptions. Beginning in 2011, seniors who reach the doughnut hole will receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs. The doughnut hole will be fully closed over the next 10 years.

This health insurance reform will also give older Minnesotans more choices to live independently at home as they age.

It improves access to the long-term care services and supports millions of Americans need and provides new options to help people plan for their long-term care expenses. It improves the flow of information to consumers about quality of care in nursing homes and provides for additional training to help health professionals care for people with dementia and to help nursing homes prevent abuse. The legislation also improves criminal background checks for long-term care.

For those Minnesotans not yet eligible for Medicare, this package includes many benefits:

  • It makes health insurance for 50- to 64-year-olds more affordable by providing additional help with premiums and cost-sharing.
  • It provides Minnesotans access to the same choice of affordable insurance plans that Members of Congress will have; limits insurance companies from charging unaffordable premiums based only on age; bans discrimination based on pre-existing health conditions; offers extra help to those who can’t afford to pay their premiums; and allows children up to age 26 to remain on their parents’ plans.
  • It provides significant new federal Medicaid funding to help Minnesota provide health care to lower income households, including those recently unemployed, and to maintain critical safety-net services in jeopardy because of the state budget deficit. This is critical and timely funding that will affect thousands of Minnesotans who rely on health and long-term care services funded by the state.

 

“AARP looks forward to helping to educate Minnesotans about the benefits of this legislation,” said Kimball. “I urge you to become informed about how this important new law will affect you.”

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