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Public Statements

Wilson Wants to Hear from NM Seniors Affected by proposed Medicare Cut

By:
Date:
Location: Albuquerque, NM


Wilson Wants to Hear from NM Seniors Affected by proposed Medicare Cut

Congresswoman Heather Wilson told Albuquerque seniors today that she's working in Congress to protect a program that provides the primary healthcare for 57,000 New Mexico seniors. Wilson had a town hall with Albuquerque seniors and told them she's concerned about legislation in Congress that severely cuts funding to popular health plans in New Mexico.

Wilson encouraged all New Mexico seniors who might be affected by this to write her and share their opinions.

Are you affected by this?
If you have one of these plans, you might be affected by the changes in Medicare recently approved by the U.S. House of Representatives:

* Presbyterian Senior Care
* Lovelace Senior Plan
* Blue Medicare PPO from BlueCross BlueShield
* Humana Gold Choice plans.

Write to Congresswoman Heather Wilson and let her know what you thinkat :

Heather Wilson
20 First Plaza NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102

or on her Website contact page:
"If you're a participant in Presbyterian Senior Care, Lovelace Senior Plan, Blue Medicare PPO, or a Humana Gold Choice plans in New Mexico, I'd like to hear from you about why you chose this plan over regular fee-for-service Medicare and what it will mean to you if you lose this coverage," Wilson told seniors today.

"New Mexico's Medicare Advantage plans, Presbyterian Senior Care, Lovelace Senior Plan, Blue Medicare PPO from BlueCross BlueShield, and the Humana Gold Choice plans may be forced to drop seniors from coverage or may have to pull out of the Medicare market altogether," warns Wilson. "They may have to reduce benefits, or pay providers less causing seniors to lose access to the doctors they have now."

Wilson says seniors can write to her at:
Congresswoman Heather Wilson
20 First Plaza NW
Albuquerque, NM 87102

Plugged-in seniors can also surf to Wilson's new website at http://wilson.house.gov and send an e-mail through the "Contact Heather" page.

At issue is a House bill that would move funding from Medicare Managed Care programs, known in Washington as Medicare Advantage, to a children's health insurance program. Wilson supports the State Children's Health Insurance program (SCHIP) but says increased financing SCHIP shouldn't come at the expense of Medicare.

Wilson supports a Senate-version of the children's health insurance bill, also supported by Senators Pete Domenici and Jeff Bingaman. The Senate bill increases funding for children's health insurance, but does not do it at the expense of senior healthcare. Just before the August break, Wilson introduced the identical Senate bill in the House as H.R. 3269 to reauthorize the successful SCHIP program for five years, enroll more eligible children, and protect Medicare. That bipartisan compromise already passed by a 17-4 vote in the Senate Finance Committee, and passed the full Senate in late July by a vote of 68-31.

Medicare Advantage
Popular in New Mexico

Entire State -

* Medicare-eligible: 275,964
* Medicare Advantage: 57,674 (21 %)

District 1—

* Medicare-eligible:
90,100
* Medicare Advantage:
35,375 (39 %)

Wilson says that in her district alone there are about 35,000 seniors who rely on Medicare Advantage plans for access to health benefits and lower costs that are not available in traditional Medicare. Wilson says Medicare Advantage enrollees amount to nearly 40% of all seniors on Medicare in her district. State-wide nearly 57,000 seniors opt for the Medicare Advantage program rather than fee-for-service Medicare. The program also serves a significant number of low-income beneficiaries. Presbyterian Senior Care plan, one of the largest New Mexico plans, serves 18,000 seniors in the 1st District. Of those, 2,158 qualify for low-income subsidies.

"I voted against this legislation because it cuts benefits for seniors in New Mexico to pay for children's health care for families making up $80,000 per year," Wilson said. "We shouldn't put the health care coverage of 35,000 seniors in my district at risk to pay for health insurance for children whose families are making enough to afford insurance."

In addition to an annual $54 million in cuts to senior benefits in Medicare Advantage in the First District of New Mexico, the legislation Wilson opposed would reduce oxygen benefits for seniors in Medicare, create more barriers to seniors and the disabled needing power wheelchairs, reduce payments for drugs and services for people needing dialysis, potentially close the Heart Hospital of New Mexico and similar specialty hospitals, and it includes earmarks in 18 Democrat districts.

Wilson's alternate bill prevents the cut to Medicare Advantage, and invests an additional $35 billion over five years in the children's health insurance program, financed by an assessment on tobacco products.


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