By State Representative Dora Drake
I firmly believe we must look out and care for our most vulnerable populations within our communities. It is one of the important priorities I advocate for while serving the constituents of the 11th Assembly District and families throughout Wisconsin. When it comes to health, I have worked to be a voice for policies that address and improve health equity so minority communities aren’t left behind as we saw during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the health coverage options that our state’s seniors and disabled population have all grown to love is Medicare Advantage, a critical part of Medicare that makes health care accessible, affordable, and equitable.
Medicare Advantage increases access to affordable, high quality and comprehensive health care to our traditionally underserved and diverse communities. In October 2020, the Milliman Report shows enrollment went up among dually-eligible beneficiaries and minorities. In addition, Medicare Advantage also addresses social determinants of health, such as income, lack of nutrition and transportation to medical appointments, with its supplemental benefit coverage.
However, this month the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed steep cuts to the program, which could result in our seniors, disabled population, and minority communities seeing higher health care costs, reduced benefits and fewer health care options. We are taking steps backwards and moving in the wrong direction.
The proof is in the pudding and data does not lie. Wisconsinites need a strong and reliable Medicare Advantage option. Otherwise, the impact of these proposed cuts would be felt the most by our disadvantaged and underserved communities who traditionally have complex health care needs and have historically lacked access to health care.
I strongly urge CMS to rethink its decision to cut such a program that is vital to so many Wisconsin seniors. We must keep moving forward and protect Medicare Advantage — an important part of Medicare — so we can continue to improve health equity not only here in the Badger State but throughout the United States.