At an annual reunion gathering of California Senior Leaders today at the University of California, Berkeley, AARP California Executive Council member Bob Prath (himself a CA Senior Leader) made a valiant effort at outlining key segments of the proposed Health Reform bill which are of primary concern to over-50 generations.
Those segments include, in no specific order of significance or degree of complexity: guaranteed access to affordable coverage for Americans 50 to 64; closing the Medicare Part D coverage gap (known to insiders and more than a few others by now as the “doughnut hole”); approving generic versions of biologic drugs; preventing costly hospital readmissions by creating a follow-up care benefit in Medicare to help people transition to home; increasing funding for home-and-community-based services through Medicaid to help people stay in their homes and out of institutions; and improving programs that help low income Americans in Medicare afford needed drugs.
If that list of details seems daunting, it was not so to the Senior Leaders. Word had already circulated that Prath had read the entire 3,000+ pages of the bill, and no eye was going to glaze over. Covering it all, though, despite a carefully prepared power point presentation, was somewhat of a challenge in the after-lunch time whittled down to less than 30 minutes by the irrepressible tale-sharings of the reunion attendees.
Prath was asked, afterwards, for suggestions of where and how anyone over 50 might find concise and useful information, short of undertaking his own feat of studying 3000+ pages. Much, he says, can be learned through Health Action Now, and those worried about exorbitant drug bills can get some good, practical help from a nifty AARP brochure, “Don’t Dump Dollars into the Doughnut Hole.”
More enlightenment from the time-squeezed power point will appear in this space over the next few days.