Hector Barreto

Obamacare’s cuts to Medicare Advantage are similarly diminishing access to services, including hospitals, nursing homes, home health agencies and hospice agencies. In fact, the Medicare Trustees project says that lower Medicare payment rates would cause 15 percent of hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, and home health agencies to become unprofitable by 2019. And although the impact to healthcare businesses will be real, the profound impact will be seniors not accessing medical care.

The Affordable Care Act will also cause injury to diabetics, patients with kidney disease and nerve damage, and especially populations with high diabetic incidence such as Hispanics. These metabolic syndromes, including diabetes, disproportionately affect minorities and socioeconomically challenged patients. By choosing to cut reimbursement for these conditions, the Center for Medicare Services is disadvantaging minorities and people of low socioeconomic status without regard for the associated costs.

Lastly, in order “to rein in spending levels,” the Affordable Care Act made additional cuts to physician reimbursement rates under Medicare. This has caused doctors to leave the program due to the ever-increasing government regulations and habitual uncertainty regarding reimbursement, and forced American families to seek out new physicians.

This is the wrong direction for the future of Medicare and the wrong direction for our grandparents, parents and children. Turning the clock back on Medicare Advantage will adversely affect the most vulnerable in our nation. We can and must do better.

Healthcare reform is a necessity in this nation. Americans expect and deserve quality healthcare with choices and control of their care. However, lawmakers in Washington need to come together now to introduce a workable alternative. We need to have the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services implement only the cuts mandated by the ACA and eliminate all other proposed cuts to Medicare Advantage funding. It is essential that we demonstrate that effective self-governance is possible with minimal intrusive regulation by requiring Medicare and other funding sources to contract directly with qualified organizations at no less than 95% of current Medicare Advantage payments; creating private managed care organizations that will be risk-bearing entities; removing state boundaries; reforming malpractice and expanding Health Savings Accounts.

Congress must intervene and stop further cuts to both Medicare and the Medicare Advantage Program. The ACA and arbitrary decisions regarding Medicare Advantage Funding by CMS have put the access and quality of care for seniors at extreme risk. Medicare funding has been raided and our seniors will pay the price of lower quality and reduced access healthcare.

Medicare Advantage has a meaningful value to the elderly of this nation. Senior care in America is at risk because of Obamacare. Therefore, real action is necessary with fundamental, structural reforms that will keep our promise to our grandparents and parents.

Hector Barreto

Hector Barreto is the Chairman of The Latino Coalition and the former US Small Business Administrator.