The Affordable Care Act was upheld in all but one of its provisions. I say Hurray! It will be hard to repeal and I hope gives a boost to those who advocate for universal health care. That said, what does it mean for older persons?
First, the law makes certain prevention activities free for older persons on Medicare, such as cancer screenings and cholesterol checks and the initiation of a personalized prevention assessment and plan. This means we can catch diseases sooner for older people, treat them sooner, and help older persons lead healthier lives.
Second, the Affordable Care Act begins to close the gap in prescription drug coverage known as the “donut hole.”
Third, insurance companies cannot deny coverage for pre-existing conditions. Aside from the relief this brings to parents and grandparents of those with health conditions, this is also helpful for older persons who continue to work past 65 years of age. This is especially important in these times when older workers are seeking jobs to cover retirement fund losses. Another benefit for children and grandchildren of older persons is the clause that allows dependents under age 26 to remain on their parents’ insurance plan. What a relief to know that your grandchild has some health insurance!
Other provisions, such as the stabilization of payments to Medicare Advantage plans should help reduce the draw on Medicare funds. The Medicare Advisory Board can begin to take a look at the Medicare program and make some rational recommendations (as opposed to the Ryan budget guttings) on where money can be saved. The Medicaid provisions on Money Follows the Person were not struck down, in my understanding, so I hope the rebalancing of state long-term care funds towards a greater emphasis on home and community-based services will continue. Finally, a number of provisions encourage pilot programs and demonstrations about how to better integrate medical care for older persons. With the increasing number of transitions of care between providers and settings, the older person’s care can get easily mucked up. This is an urgent need and the Affordable Care Act may help find a solution.
So, again Hurray! And Hurray! And Hurray! once more. A giant leap forward for the U.S.