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Letter: Restore subsidies to Advantage plans

Restore subsidies to Advantage plans

The Sept. 19 feature on Medicare Part D contained a brief discussion of Obamacare's cuts to Medicare Advantage plans, in which 54 percent of Erie County's seniors are enrolled. According to the article, Buffalo area Advantage plan providers say they will continue to offer these plans. But at what future cost to seniors?
We have recently compared area Advantage plans to options in the "traditional" Medicare path, which consists of Original Medicare, plus a supplemental plan to cover the 20 percent of medical costs not paid by Original Medicare, plus a Part D plan for prescriptions. Like most seniors in this area, we chose an Advantage plan because it offers comprehensive hospital, medical and prescription benefits and is still significantly less expensive than the "traditional" alternative. But if subsidies to Advantage plans are cut or ultimately eliminated, what will happen to their premiums and/or co-pays? If they approach the costs of the "traditional" path, many seniors, particularly those with lower incomes, will not be able to afford them. Yes, they could rely simply on Original Medicare, but then they would incur some 20 percent of medical costs as well as almost all prescription costs.
Republicans as well as Democrats have criticized the Part D coverage gap and favor closing it. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have pledged to restore the $716 billion to Medicare and Advantage plans that Obama's health law has cut. But Democrats have not offered to restore subsidies to Advantage plans. Indeed, cutting these subsidies, and so jeopardizing reasonably priced Advantage plans, is essential to fund Obama's Affordable Care Act.

Leonard and Janice Aldrich