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Obamacare and Medicare
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Carolina Meadows

How does the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) affect Medicare recipients? Some sixty Carolina Meadows residents attended a recent program sponsored by the Health and Wellness Committee to find out.

Gina Upchurch, Executive Director of Senior Pharm Assist, a health-advocacy program based in Durham, presented a summary of the various parts of Medicare and how the new health reform legislation might impact Medicare. She stressed that the two programs are distinct. The primary goal of the new law is to provide health insurance for those not presently insured, especially younger adults who do not have employer-sponsored coverage. A secondary objective is to cut the rapidly rising health care costs.

The new law does impact Medicare recipients in several positive ways, including:

• It decreases the Part D coverage gap or “donut hole” over the next ten years.

• It adds an annual wellness visit that includes preventive screenings.

• It initiates pilot efforts to design new models of care to improve outcomes and lower costs.

One possible negative effect is that because of a reduction in reimbursement to providers, some doctors may no longer accept Medicare patients. However, she assured the audience that this was not likely to occur in our area, as both the UNC and Duke hospital systems accept Medicare.

Handouts provided more detailed information and attendees were advised that if they had further questions or concerns they could call the local Senior Health Insurance Information Program (SHIIP) at 800-443-9354.

By Bill Powers

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