With the ink barely dry on the newly signed health care reform legislation, thousands of AARP members in Montana had the opportunity to participate in a “telephone town hall" meeting with Senator Max Baucus about the landmark bill and how it will affect their lives. As Chairman of the Finance Committee, Senator Baucus drafted a substantial portion of the legislation and played a key role passing it through the Senate. In addition to Senator Baucus, Nora Super, Director of Federal Government Relations and Lee White, West Regional Vice President of AARP participated in the forum.
AARP Montana hosted the statewide tele-town hall meeting with U.S. Senator Max Baucus to discuss what health care reform means to Montana’s 50-plus population. The hour-long forum took place on April 1 at noon and allowed thousands of AARP members to join Senator Baucus to hear about the new law and share their views about health care reform.
AARP called its members in Montana to invite them to participate in the meeting. Members interested in participating only needed to hold on the line to be placed into the live event with Senator Baucus. After brief introductions and statements, participants had the opportunity to ask their questions. All AARP households with current phone numbers were called to participate in the meeting. More than 6,700 AARP Montana households participated in the telefourm.
“The tele-town hall format has many advantages, not the least of which is the convenience for the participants who don't have to leave home or carve time out of their schedule to head down to a traditional meeting,” said Bob Bartholomew, AARP Montana State Director. “There’s no worrying about driving time, the weather or other conflicts -- members can just pick up the phone at home and instantly join the meeting.”
AARP Montana members had a chance to pose their questions to Senator Baucus. Rachel in Billings asked when the prohibition on pre-existing conditions goes into effect for adults. Margaret in Helena asked about the myth that doctors will be refusing to take new Medicare and Medicaid patients under the new law. Stan in Shelby asked what effect the new bill will have on small businesses in Montana.
AARP tele-town hall meetings utilize a number of cutting-edge technologies including voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) technology that permit tens of thousands of people to connect in an interactive, two-way dialogue.
“We were pleased to hold this community conversation with AARP members across the state and offer this opportunity for AARP members to hear directly from Senator Baucus on this very important issue,” said Bartholomew.
An excerpt from the tele town hall appears below:
Welcome to AARP’s tele-town hall conversation on health reform.
Hello, I’m Lee White, West Regional Vice President, AARP. Thank you for joining us today and participating in this Tele-Town Hall to talk about an issue of greatest importance to Montanans: understanding the recently enacted Health Care law and making it work best for Montanans.
Joining us today is our Senator Max Baucus. We also have Health Care Expert Nora Super from AARP’s national office.
This is your chance to hear from and ask questions of Senator Baucus and our AARP expert right here in Montana. As we proceed, if you would like to ask a question, press *3 (star 3) on your telephone keypad to be connected with an AARP staff member who will note your name and question. The sooner you press star 3, the sooner you will be online with our guests.
The passage by Congress and enactment by the President of Health Care legislation is really just the beginning of an implementation process to ensure that your guaranteed Medicare benefits are protected, that the Part D prescription drug “donut hole” is closed, and that working and retired Americans under age 65 will have access to affordable health insurance coverage.
Let’s together move forward to understand and take best advantage of this historic improvement in our nation’s health care system.
Let’s together move forward from Facts not Fears. Yes, with the elections coming up in November, we are bound to hear a lot of myths. Maybe even more than last summer. Let’s be ready so we will know the difference between the political scare tactics and what really matters to Montanans.
The health care reform legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President makes critical improvements to the health care of people 50-plus in the coming years:
- It protects and strengthens the benefits that have been promised to people in Medicare by offering preventive care free of charge; providing a 50 percent discount on brand-name and biologic drugs for most people in the “doughnut hole;” and cutting fraud, waste and abuse to keep Medicare financially sound.
- It provides 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 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.
People 50-plus will see immediate benefits from the health care legislation the President has already signed:
This year—2010—people in Medicare who reach the “doughnut hole” will receive a $250 rebate to help pay for their prescription drugs.
Beginning in six months, health insurers will be required to provide coverage to children, regardless of their medical history; banned from limiting or cutting off coverage if you get sick; and banned from placing lifetime or arbitrary annual limits on your health insurance coverage;
Also beginning in six months, new insurance plans will be required to provide preventive benefits free of charge.
Within 90 days, temporary insurance will be available for uninsured Americans with pre-existing conditions until the health insurance Exchanges are established.