Government Changes to Medicare Affecting Poor, Middle Class

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - HealthIn the wake of the third anniversary of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) being signed into law and the Advance Notice of Methodological Changes issued by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), The Latino Coalition released the following statements regarding “the 45-Day Notice” set to take effect on April 1, 2013.

The Advance Notice of Methodological Changes issued by CMS could lead to the significant disruption of services for 14 million beneficiaries enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans. This notice, along with the statutorily required funding reductions to Medicare Advantage already put in place by ACA will reduce Medicare Advantage payments next year on average by more than eight percent or approximately $11 billion in 2014.

“Our poor and middle class are the most vulnerable sector of our community, and they will be adversely affected by this enormous funding cut to the Medicare Advantage program,” says Dr. Alfonso E. Pino, anesthesiologist and a Board Member of The Latino Coalition. “A reduction in the number and the variety of plan choices coupled with a substantial decrease in benefits and an increase in out of pocket expenses is threatening healthcare. Important services for patients with chronic diseases will be drastically reduced, disproportionately affecting minorities, including Hispanics, and the socioeconomically disadvantaged.”

Dr. Pino goes on to explain that the new adjustment under “the 45-Day Notice” will particularly harm patients with diabetes, kidney disease and nerve damage, diseases found with high incidences in the Hispanic population.

“Our healthcare system definitely needs serious reform, but the implications the Affordable Care Act will soon have on Medicare Advantage will hit the heart and engine of our economy — small business,” The Latino Coalition Chairman and Former Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (2001-2006), Hector Barreto said. “The private sector will disproportionately be affected by even higher skyrocketing health care costs for employees, a laying off of workers, burdensome taxes and regulations and an expected $6.2 trillion more to the deficit of our nation. We must effectively improve the system and make it sustainable for the most potentially powerful segment of our economy.”

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