On April 1, the Better Medicare Alliance (BMA) held a town hall meeting with about 50 seniors in Philadelphia at the South Philadelphia Older Adult Center to discuss the latest issues surrounding Medicare Advantage. The meeting focused on proposed cuts to funding for Medicare Advantage (MA) retiree plans or MA plans sponsored by a former employer, union, or state and local government.
Pennsylvania has over 200,000 retirees that would be impacted by these proposed cuts. Philadelphia has the 10th highest enrollment in MA employer-sponsored retiree plans among metro areas across the country with over 49,000 enrollees. The event was an educational opportunity about access to quality care for seniors and an advocacy opportunity for beneficiaries and/or caregivers to become advocates for Medicare Advantage.
Speakers included President and CEO of Better Medicare Alliance Allyson Y. Schwartz, President of SEIU Pennsylvania State Council Neal Bisno, Office of U.S. House Representative Robert Brady (D-PA) District Director Tom Blackwell, and Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA) Assistant Director Mark Myers.
“Everyday unions are turning to Medicare Advantage to provide quality health coverage with out-of-pocket cost protections and prescription drug benefits for retirees,” said Schwartz. “Our own senior advocates say that Medicare Advantage retiree plans have not only saved them from higher premiums but that they have been able to get comprehensive care for serious conditions at affordable costs.”
“The thing about Medicare Advantage is - for those of you who participate in it - more than traditional fee-for-service Medicare what you get with Medicare Advantage is some ability to coordinate the care,” said Bisno. “To help you navigate the different elements, the nursing home, the rehab center, the doctor’s office, the hospital so that all those different groups are talking to each other and you are not getting an extra test that you don’t need that might even be more harmful or spending unnecessary time in a hospital where you can pick up a hospital acquired infection. Unfortunately, these cuts go through what it might lead to is that some of these employer groups actually dropping the Medicare Advantage shifting people back to fee-for-service and losing the benefits of that care coordination.”
Bisno added that the issue of cuts to funding for retiree coverage is “not getting a lot of headlines and publicity but it’s a really important issue that is affecting over 200,000 here in Pennsylvania and millions across the country. As healthcare workers and union members, we are happy to be aligned with Congresswoman Schwartz, the PCA, Congressman Brady and so many others and all of you the seniors who have served this country so admirably to stand up and say no cuts to Medicare Advantage.”
In his remarks, Blackwell reiterated Congressman Brady’s commitment to protecting Medicare Advantage, stating that Brady “is for fully funded Medicare Advantage” and urged seniors to make their voices heard in Washington.
The event was also attended by Monique Scott, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (Philadelphia Regional Office). The event was covered by Channel 6 ABC Action News in Philadelphia.