As America’s seniors learn about the new benefits (pdf) for them in the Affordable Care Act, they want to hear more. On Tuesday, we’ve received 30,000 calls at our 1-800-MEDICARE call center about reform compared to an average of 150 a day last month.
In response to this growing interest, President Obama will host a tele-town hall next Tuesday to talk to seniors about the Affordable Care Act. They’ll have a direct conversation about how the law will strengthen Medicare by improving benefits, lowering costs, and giving seniors and their doctors more control over their health care.
Seniors from across the country will be able to participate via phone or watch the event here at WhiteHouse.gov/live and call in to ask their questions. A number of groups are also organizing events where seniors can join their neighbors to listen to the town hall and discuss the new law.
As we continue to implement the Affordable Care Act, it’s more important than ever that seniors have accurate information about their health care.
That’s why we’ve been reaching out aggressively to tell seniors about new benefits like the $250 rebate checks that will begin arriving next Thursday for seniors who have fallen into the Medicare prescription drug donut hole – the first step to closing the donut hole completely.
Disappointingly, we’ve also begun hearing reports of criminals using the passage of the new law as an opportunity to launch new scams targeted at older Americans.
We’re moving quickly to go after these crooks, and the Affordable Care Act gives us new tools that will make it easier to identify, prosecute, and ultimately prevent fraud.
In the months to come, we’re going to continue to use every power we have to keep Medicare strong, including our ability to review unreasonable premium increases. On Monday when Medicare Advantage bids are due, we’ll be watching closely to make sure seniors aren’t subjected to unfair rate hikes.
Medicare is a sacred promise to America’s seniors. By filling in gaps in coverage, attacking waste and fraud, and making benefits smarter – without eliminating a single guaranteed benefit – the Affordable Care Act will help us preserve that promise for the next generation.
To learn more about what’s changing and what’s not, seniors should tune in on Tuesday or visit Medicare.gov, the best source for trustworthy information about their healthcare.
Kathleen Sebelius is Secretary of Health and Human Services