By Elizabeth Vlock
With the Supreme Court decision on the Constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) expected to be handed down in the coming weeks, the White House held a town hall meeting Monday as part of an ongoing effort to stress the importance of health care reform’s beneficial impact on senior citizens covered by Medicare.
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius expressed concern over the gap in coverage that existed before the ACA passed, particularly in Medicare part D, the clause that covers prescription medication.
“Up until this past year about one in four seniors reported skipping doses, cutting pills in half, not filling prescriptions at all,” Sebelius said, adding that “in the long run far more costly not only to the patient’s health but also to the healthcare system.”
This stems from the fact that seniors who cannot pay for medication are far more likely to seek hospital treatments when their health issues can no longer be ignored, Sebelius noted, emphasizing that the ACA alleviates the financial strain on seniors who under the previous Medicare system could not afford preventative examinations and prescription medications.
White House director of Domestic Policy Council, Cecilia Munoz expressed one of the major undertakings by the ACA is prevention of rampant Medicare fraud. Munoz noted that prior to the President taking office, in 2008, only 800 prosecutions of individuals committing fraud compared to 1,400 fraud prosecutions in the past year. Munoz explained that preventing Medicare fraud plays a significant role in sustaining the Medicare program. Munoz elucidated the steps taken by task forces which include, “using technology that’s similar to what credit card companies use [the task forces] can identify and stop suspicious payments before they go out.” This new approach under the ACA, according to Medicare experts can “extend the life of the Medicare trust fund by 8 years.”
White House officials have argued that these systemic changes are all the more necessary considering that 48 million Americans receive Medicare benefits with 11,000 baby boomers joining the program daily.