Seniors assured Affordable Care Act will affect them positively

By Steve Smith - Staff Writer
Glastonbury - posted Wed., Sep. 11, 2013
State Sen. Steve Cassano (D-4) talks with nonagenarian Bill McGaw about the Affordable Care Act, at the Glastonbury Senior Center on Sept. 9. Photos by Steve Smith.
State Sen. Steve Cassano (D-4) talks with nonagenarian Bill McGaw about the Affordable Care Act, at the Glastonbury Senior Center on Sept. 9. Photos by Steve Smith.

State Sen. Steve Cassano (D-4) and state Rep. Joe Dominico (D-13) met with senior residents of Glastonbury on Sept. 9 to explain and answer questions about the Affordable Care Act, which begins enrollment on Oct. 1 and requires Americans to have health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014, or pay more on their tax returns.

Most seniors, they said, will be affected very little or not at all, because the act is primarily aimed at those who do not have health insurance.

Cassano said the act’s effects on Medicare are positive, especially in the long term. “Over time, it will make Medicare a better program,” he said. “The benefits are expanded in certain areas.”

Cassano said the overall quality of healthcare will be improved, because more people will have health insurance, and fewer will use emergency rooms as their primary healthcare. “That affects you, me, and every one of us, who, in a crisis will go to the emergency room,” he said. “All of this is going to change, because they will have access to doctors for medical care. That, I think, is tremendous.”

Also impacting Medicare is that guaranteed benefits will be better protected, and prescription costs will be lower.

Diminico said Connecticut residents will have an easier time in general, because there is already easier access to healthcare than most states, and because there are already a large number of resources to find answers.

Cassano said that people are resistant to the change to a new healthcare system, but like it or not, it is happening. “The psychology of it is the most difficult thing to overcome,” he said. “We have always been a nation that is afraid of doing something different. We’re the last of the advanced nations to have a national healthcare plan. So we want to do it better.”

The Affordable Care Act, Cassano said, will also cut down sharply on fraud, to the tune of billions of dollars. “With the oversight fraud prevention program, if that money is saved and not being stolen away from us, that will reduce the overall cost for everyone,” he said, “so it’s a far-reaching, far-thinking program.”

Access Health Connecticut is the consumer-friendly marketplace which will help people in the state buy the new government health insurance plans. They can be purchased online, at store fronts which are being established, or on the phone. The plans can also be purchased via “assistors.”

Michele Mudrick – a congregational organizer with the Christian Activities Council – said that she is an assistor for the Glastonbury and Manchester area, and she is assigned the task of signing up 100 people in a six-month period.  With 350,000 people in Connecticut who do not currently have health insurance, Mudrick said, the assistors are tasked with signing up about 80,000 of those people.

“Getting everyone covered is going to save our state billions of dollars,” she said.

Mudrick said a new innovation in Connecticut is a healthcare co-op, which will put profits back into the system, rather than in the pockets of an insurance corporation’s CEO.

Mudrick added that while few seniors need to worry about buying insurance or being penalized, she urged them to talk to their children, grandchildren, friends and neighbors, to make sure they are covered, adding that they can seek her help if they have any questions.

Many of the seniors were concerned that they would need to buy health insurance, unless they already had supplemental insurance. The speakers clarified that people on Medicare will not be required to buy a new plan, and that the benefits to Medicare will hopefully make supplemental plans unnecessary.

Diminico said that seniors with further questions should seek out Mudrick or any of the other assistors, or call local healthcare advocate services.

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