Better Medicare Alliance Advocacy Update – July 2019
July 31, 2019
Posted by: Daniella Chambers
Note from Congresswoman Schwartz
Hello BMA Advocates!
Since 1966, Medicare has provided critical health and economic security for America’s seniors and their families. As we reflect on Medicare’s success in recognition of the program’s 54th anniversary, we also see new opportunities and challenges in meeting the needs and expectations of today’s Medicare beneficiaries. With 10,000 new seniors becoming eligible for Medicare every day, this new generation of older adults have different needs than those of 50 years ago when the main concern was coverage for hospital costs for acute illness. Given the advancements in treatments and cures, we are living longer, and many seniors are healthier than ever.
Yet, many are also living with complex chronic conditions and managing their medical and non-clinical needs is more important than ever. Fortunately, Medicare has changed over the decades to meet these needs. Part D coverage for prescription drugs was one of those changes, as was the option of Medicare Advantage, which is uniquely designed to care for seniors today. Attention to care coordination, preventive services and early intervention offered by Medicare Advantage are effective steps to help those living with chronic diseases manage their care and life healthier lives. With innovative solutions and a focus on value-based care, Better Medicare Alliance (BMA) believes Medicare Advantage is the future of Medicare and offers a model for the nation.
In July, thought leaders, plans, providers and community partners in health care from across the country convened in Washington for BMA’s 2019 Medicare Advantage Summit. Over two days, we discussed the future of Medicare and highlighted the unique capacity of Medicare Advantage to meet the needs of older adults and people with disabilities. With outstanding speakers, including Secretary Alex Azar of Health and Human Services, Administrator Seema Verma of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, Adam Boehler of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation, Bruce Broussard, CEO of Humana, and Larry Merlo, CEO Of CVS Health, participants explored opportunities to improve patient care, remove barriers to care, and reduce health disparities. Over 250 individuals attended the Summit, with more than 36% traveling from out of state to take part in this one of a kind opportunity to learn more about Medicare Advantage.
With the help of this community, BMA has been educating members and cultivating strong bipartisan support for Medicare Advantage in Congress. In July, BMA hosted an educational briefing for Congressional staff, unveiling new data that show the critical role Medicare Advantage plays in serving an increasingly diverse population of beneficiaries and shielding low and modest-income individuals from high-out-of-pocket costs. The briefing, entitled Medicare Advantage: Enrollment and Demographic Trends, included a presentation by Anne Tumlinson of Anne Tumlinson Innovations and a panel discussion with three BMA ally organizations: Meals on Wheels, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and the National Minority Quality Forum. BMA Medicare Advantage Champions Representatives Tony Cardenas (D-CA) and Jimmy Gomez (D-CA) also addressed the crowd, urging Congressional staff to learn more about Medicare Advantage. We are excited to report that the event was widely attended, with nearly 100 Congressional staffers joining to learn more about demographic trends and consumer cost protections in Medicare Advantage.
In April, we reached out to you about a proposal to eliminate drug rebates in Medicare, which would have raised the cost of premiums for seniors on Medicare Advantage. Seniors like you spoke out to protect Medicare Advantage beneficiaries, sending nearly 3,000 letters to Congress opposing the proposal and calling on lawmakers to tell the Administration to protect affordable prescription drug coverage for all beneficiaries. In July, we saw your hard work pay off, as the Administration withdrew the proposal after listening to groups like BMA and our senior advocates. This victory on behalf of Medicare Advantage beneficiaries proves how critical your voice is to protect high-quality, affordable health coverage available with Medicare Advantage.
Thank you for speaking out to support and improve Medicare Advantage!
Allyson Y. Schwartz
President & CEO
Active Choosers Participate in BMA Medicare Academy Month
By Daniella Chambers, BMA Advocacy Manager
Throughout July, seniors and beneficiaries with disabilities across the country competed to expand their knowledge of Medicare Advantage as part of Medicare Academy Month. This educational series provided Medicare-eligible seniors the chance to learn more about their Medicare choices, and gave BMA advocates and ambassadors an opportunity to learn new information through participation in weekly activities and quizzes.
Participation in Medicare Academy Month was phenomenal! Over 73,000 advocates tuned in to the series to learn more about Medicare Advantage by viewing graphics and short videos on Facebook and over 150 advocates competed for prizes by completing weekly quizzes.
With all points totaled, BMA congratulates the following advocates for their success in learning more about Medicare Advantage during Medicare Academy Month:
Thank you to everyone who participated throughout the month of July! Your dedication to learning more about Medicare Advantage and enhancing your role as an active chooser is so encouraging and much appreciated.
Looking to share what you learned with others? You can access resources from Medicare Academy Month online any time. Visit our website for more information.
Continued Advocacy During August Recess
During the month of August, members of Congress head out of Washington to return to their home districts. Many will be meeting with their constituents. Recess provides great opportunities for you to make sure your members understand and support Medicare Advantage by connecting with them locally!
To find events in your area, check out Town Hall Project, a web resource dedicated to helping you locate upcoming events with your elected officials. Want more information on Medicare Advantage to prepare for your discussions? Visit our website, where you can find our advocacy toolkit and other resources.
If you attend a townhall or event with your members during the August recess, we would love to hear about your experience! Contact us by email at email@example.com and we will connect for more information about the event and the feedback you received.
Join Our Task Forces
Featured Action: Share Your Story
BMA is proud to be a leading source for information on beneficiary experience in Medicare Advantage. Through your stories, comments, and letters, you help us understand what works well and where we as a community can advocate for improvements. This information is critical as we work to shape the future of Medicare today and in the days to come.
- Share your Medicare Advantage story today to help us impact Medicare Advantage coverage for over 22 million beneficiaries nationwide!
Our Top Advocates
- Jose D. (Hialeah, FL)
- Susan B. (Jefferson, TX)
- Sharon R. (Fort Worth, TX)
BMA Ambassadors work directly with BMA to further engage in advocacy activities, like hosting events, recruiting new members, and contacting Congress.
The Better Medicare Alliance Ambassador Facebook Group is a self-selected committee of the Better Medicare Alliance’s most engaged senior advocates dedicated to strengthening health care for seniors and people with disabilities who are enrolled in Medicare Advantage.