At a moment when a broad debate over the future of value-based care delivery and payment has emerged in the U.S. health care system, a bipartisan majority in Congress has expressed its support for the Medicare Advantage program’s ability to deliver high quality, comprehensive and preventive care that improves health care outcomes and lowers out of pocket health care costs for beneficiaries.
Among those supporters is U.S. Rep. Darren Soto, whose Central Florida Congressional district is home to 102,000 Medicare Advantage enrollees. Earlier this month, Soto took part in a community roundtable event that featured constituents sharing their personal stories about their experiences with Medicare Advantage and why the program is important to both seniors and under-resourced communities.
A diverse group including Soto, community organizations and health care professionals, were brought together by Alianza for Progress and the Better Medicare Alliance on March 1 to discuss how Medicare Advantage is improving health care outcomes, providing high quality comprehensive and preventive care while lowering out-of-pocket costs for Medicare Advantage beneficiaries.
“When I think about what our district has been through over the past two years, it is a struggle. So many families, including our seniors, have been through so much. Seeing all the challenges that come with COVID; having preexisting conditions, access to care, telehealth, and postponing procedures, we know that we have challenges ahead, but I am optimistic now that we’re coming out of COVID. So, as we look at the road ahead and key issues like Medicare Advantage, it’s important to recognize where we’re at and where we’re going.” Soto said.
Russell Meyer, the executive director for the Florida Council of Churches, shared how he has seen Medicare Advantage benefit the community members he serves.
“Medicare Advantage plans offer proactive medicine. We know that much of our health and well-being are embedded in our lifestyles. Medicare Advantage programs help people look at healthy lifestyles and begin changing how they live their daily life — this has long-term health benefits. Before these plans were available, people had to navigate these issues by themselves,” he said.
“Unfortunately, in impoverished communities, access to healthy diets is prohibitive in cost. Having mechanisms in health care that address the deficits in diet and well-being is very important. The more we can think about our health care as the way we live in a healthy way versus just how we deal with sickness when it occurs the better our communities are, the better our lives are.”
Daniel Jesus López, Government Advisory Coordinator for the Osceola County Chamber of Commerce, added, “Some business owners can’t provide insurance for their employees, it’s critical that our workforce here has access to affordable health care. It’s very important.”
Mark Adler, President for Meals on Wheels Florida, said, “I think a lot of the folks that elect into Medicare Advantage need additional support. They may be living alone, or English may not be their first language, and Medicare Advantage offers a holistic approach to have access to valuable things they may not know where to find.”
Karla Radka, CEO of the Senior Resource Alliance of Central Florida and a member of Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyer’s Committee on Livability & Healthy Aging, said, “It is fundamental that policymakers in D.C. continue to protect the option of Medicare Advantage for some of the most vulnerable members of our communities.”
Rep. Soto concluded the event by thanking the participants for their valuable insights on Medicare Advantage and all they do in the community.
“We know our future is bright, but we can’t have a bright future without providing care for our seniors — that includes quality health care options like Medicare Advantage,” he said.