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Health Reform Helps Working Families Care for Seniors

Jeremy Sprinkle
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Closing the Medicare Rx gap

Jimmy Everage works at the Goodyear tire plant in Fayetteville, NC, and he is a member of Steelworkers Local 959. In this video, Jimmy shares the story of his mom, whose life savings were wiped out during his father's losing battle with cancer and now lives on a fixed income of $800 a month. Each year she hits the coverage gap, Jimmy and his brother step up to pay for her prescriptions until she gets to the other side.

"Thank God that me and my brother are fortunate enough to have good jobs where we can help her out, to make ends meet," Jimmy says. "But just think about the people who don't have family." Watch:

"I'm really big on health reform. I wish it would take place quicker, but I understand things happen over time. It will really help out the older citizens who've already worked for our country to be able to sustain a better lifestyle when they get older."

How does Jimmy respond to critics of health reform who say it's not their problem if people on Medicare can't afford their prescription drugs?

"They don't understand that all of us are going to get older someday, and you never know what's going to happen. People who really think like that are thinking on a day-to-day basis and not thinking about the long-term and not the betterment of our country.

"We're looking at the big picture. I would even be willing to pay on my insurance if it would help out older Americans and the disabled people in the United States."

Medicare is changing for the better

Seven months have passed since President Obama signed the Affordable Health Care Act into law. Health reform includes changes to Medicare that are making health care more affordable for seniors. Reform will take effect in stages. Earlier this year, Medicare began sending $250 checks to enrollees who have hit the Part D Prescription Drug coverage gap - the "doughnut hole". Beginning January 1, 2011, the new law will:

  • Begin to fully close the prescription coverage gap.
  • Provide free preventive care like annual physicals, mammograms, colonoscopies and other screenings with no co-payments or deductible;
  • Help early retirees (ages 55 to 64) better afford and keep their private health insurance.
  • Enable middle-class families to better afford the high costs of long-term care.
  • Strengthen the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by ending wasteful taxpayer subsidies and over payments to private insurance companies who operate Medicare Advantage programs.