Throughout the protracted debate for health care reform, my concern was mainly for midlife people – those not yet old enough for Medicare.
As I often said, Medicare for All would have been the better and easier way to go (or, at least, a public option in the bill) but here we are with a beginning and importantly, the principle, now set in legislative stone, that every American has a right to affordable health coverage.
That, in time, will become as accepted as women's suffrage and civil rights are now and, perhaps, will shift to the more enlightened view in other advanced countries that health care is the right of every citizen.
Although I'm disappointed overall (or maybe just exhausted from the year-long fracas), there are good things in the bill (that carries the ungainly name, “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act”) – and some, to which I had not paid close attention in the final draft, are for us old folks.
Medicare physician payments can now be increased through rewards for improved quality of care.
A nationwide database will be created that, with background checks, will help prevent repeat predators from being hired in nursing homes.
Better consumer information on quality of care and enforcement of standards will make it easier to choose good nursing homes.
Many subscribers are concerned about potential cuts to their Medicare Advantage plans or increased premiums or cuts in benefits such as free gym memberships. On the other hand, the bill requires that 85 percent of revenue be used for actual health care rather than administrative costs like high executive salaries and bonuses.
Also, I would like to remind Advantage subscribers that your low premiums or, in some cases, free coverage, come out of the hides of those who purchase traditional Medicare. Our premiums are higher than they would otherwise need to be to help subsidize Medicare Advantage.
Personally, I don't think my total cost for traditional Medicare B, D and supplemental of $271.90 per month is unreasonable (given the U.S. system) for the care I receive. (I'm sure the Medicare Advantage changes will be argued vehemently.)
There are two immediate benefits for all Medicare members: one - a free annual physical is now included, something that makes both health and fiscal sense, along with free preventive services, such as screenings for colon, prostate and breast cancer.
The other is a gradual closing of the infamous doughnut hole in the drug benefit, Medicare Part D, important to many elders whose prescription drug costs stretch or are beyond their means.
Here is a short video from Senate Leader Harry Reid's office explaining the Part D change:
DENTURE ADVENTURE UPDATE: For those of you who have asked, the fatigue from my teeth extractions has finally lifted. Healing is going well and I'm making daily visits to the dentist this week for fit tweaks and adjustments.
I've been off pain pills since Monday and although I'm not ready to chew anything challenging, I had dinner at a restaurant two evenings ago with no mishaps. Mussels and scallops were easy to chew; salad greens not so much. That, I assume, will come in time.
Like the old saying goes, “If I'd known I would live this long, I'd have taken better care of my teeth,” but they have plagued me since childhood, so maybe it wasn't up to me and, anyway, it's too late now. Given the alternative of toothlessness, the denture isn't so bad and as I gradually become accustomed to it, it doesn't feel quite as much like a boulder in my mouth.
At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Lois Cochran: Rose