Health care continues to be at the top of the list of issues that voters consider most important going into this year’s Presidential election.
There will be debates about whether to overhaul the entire health care system, make changes to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, or leave things the same. Coverage for pre-existing conditions will also be an important topic.
As part of these discussions, “Medicare for all,” how to cut costs, and how to cover more people will be the hot topics in the debates and discussions. Advocates for Medicare say the root cause of rising program costs is the continued rise in prescription costs. So, the answer isn’t to cut Medicare, but, to lower the costs that are driving up Medicare costs.
The future of Medicare will be in the hands of the voters as they will determine who they want making these decisions. We need to be asking both Presidential candidates what their plan will look like and how will it impact us personally. This will be a key determining factor for many Americans, especially for people 65 and older.
While Medicare has been strong and is not in jeopardy of running out of funds, we do need to pay close attention to how the federal deficit, which has grown exponentially due to the pandemic, may cut into the Medicare budget in the future. Currently, the Medicare budget is approx. 15% of the federal budget. So, what happens if the budget is cut even just 1% and how will that impact you?
Some key questions that you will want answered by the presidential candidates regarding Medicare include:
- What is your vision for future health care plans and how will that affect Medicare?
- Would you ever consider raising the eligibility age for Medicare?
- How do you plan to ensure that Medicare remains financially stable?
- Do you support dental, vision and hearing coverage as part of the Medicare program?
Meanwhile, whoever wins the White House, Congress and state houses in November, will determine how low-income Americans get health care for decades. Over the past decade, there have been 37 states that have chosen to expand the program. Will more states join in expanding the program? Or, will the next President try to cap how much will be spent on Medicaid? Will states add eligibility requirements and time limits for receiving benefits?
These unknowns make Medicaid vulnerable going forward with the elections around the corner. The Trump administration recently proposed the Healthy Adult Opportunity which is a block grant program which would give states the ability to change benefits and make revisions without federal oversight. The federal government provides nearly 60% of the Medicaid funding, the rest is funded by the states. Medicaid has often been targeted for budget cuts at federal and state levels.
One of the key Medicaid benefits are services related to the care people receive at home and in their communities. This is something that older Americans increasingly say they need and want. States must pay for those eligible to receive care in a nursing facility, but, states are not required to pay for such services at one’s home or services in the community.
The ACA called on states to expand Medicaid to more low-income families. 75% of the states have done so. But, there is now a lawsuit pending before the Supreme Court to argue the legality of the ACA mandate. The decision could jeopardize Medicaid expansion under the ACA. Questions still remain for the Presidential candidates as to whether they want to keep ACA intact, change it or replace it.
If Medicaid is a key concern for you, especially for baby boomers who are reaching the age of 65+, then you’ll want to know the following from the two Presidential candidates:
- Do you support the current proposed block grant program proposed by the Trump administration which could jeopardize certain Medicaid benefits?
- Will you work to preserve the state’s option to expand Medicaid?
- Do you support eligible health care services at home?
- Will you promise to NOT cut Medicaid funding?
As more and more Americans are reaching the age of 65+, we need to be a driving force in electing the right candidate for President in November who will look after our key health care concerns.
Please be sure to register to vote by October 5th https://olvr.ohiosos.gov/ . Every vote counts including yours!