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Will Health Care Reform Hurt Or Help Medicare?

November 1, 2010

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Political ads running in West Virginia say the health care reform passed this past spring will undermine Medicare. But according to the state Bureau of Senior Services and the AARP, those ads are just not true.

Don Perdue, chair of the House of Delegates Health and Human Resources Committee, says the reform will strengthen Medicare, improve its benefits and make it more financially sound. He says opponents are playing the "granny card," scaring seniors about something they depend on.

"They built it to the point where one person responded by saying, "Keep your government hands off my Medicare.'"

Several campaign ads have said the reform would cut $500 million out of the program. But Perdue says what it will really do is charge a bit more for some add-on "Cadillac" coverage and trim the growth in over-payments to health care providers.

Perdue says the new law will reduce long-term costs by moving away from paying for each service, paying instead for results. He says that will be more efficient.

"If for instance you go into a hospital with some problem and you get an infection that was created by the hospital, then they're not going to pay the hospital for that. The hospital's going to have to assume that cost."

He says reform would increase Medicare taxes slightly for individuals making more than $85,000 a year, but cut payments for lower-income people.

Perdue says that under the reform Medicare will also pay for more preventive care and close the so-called doughnut hole in drug coverage. He says that will be significant.

"As you phase out that Medicare Part D drug gap, those individuals who take a lot of medications will see that their out-of-pocket costs there may go down very dramatically."

According to the bi-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the reform will keep Medicare solvent for longer and cut the federal deficit.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV