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Medicare and Mayberry

A new ad featuring Andy Griffith discusses how the Affordable Care Act will strengthen the health care system for seniors.

The Affordable Care Act will strengthen the health care system for all Americans, but senior citizens in particular stand to benefit from the new law. And the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is getting a little help delivering the good news from a well known TV star: Andy Griffith.

Today, CMS released a new ad featuring Griffith discussing the Affordable Care Act. The ad will begin running immediately on national cable channels, and you can watch the ad now:

The ad comes on the 45th anniversary of the Medicare program, an anniversary the President marked with a special proclamation. Secretary Sebelius has also written an op-ed about Medicare and the support it has provided to seniors for 45 years.  And the new ad comes as we continue our work to implement provisions in the Affordable Care Act that will make the Medicare program even stronger. We know seniors will see tremendous benefits from the new law. Under the Affordable Care Act:

  • Seniors guaranteed Medicare benefits will remain the same.
  • Medicare beneficiaries who hit the prescription drug “donut hole” will receive a one-time, $250 rebate check. Hundreds of thousands of seniors have already received their check. And the donut hole will be closed completely by 2020.
  • Preventive care services like colorectal cancer screenings and mammograms and an annual physical will be provided free of charge.
  • Medicare pays Medicare Advantage insurance companies over $1,000 more per person on average than Original Medicare. These additional payments are paid for in part by increased premiums by all Medicare beneficiaries—including the 77% of seniors not enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. The new law eliminates these overpayments and starting in 2014, Medicare Advantage plans will be required to spend 85% of every dollar they receive on health care, not profits, overhead or administrative costs.
  • By 2018, seniors will save an average of $200 per year and $200 in co-insurace compared to what they would have paid without reform.
  • The new law extends the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by more than a decade.

As we worked to pass the Affordable Care Act, seniors were the target of a major misinformation campaign that was designed to scare and confuse older Americans about the real impact of reform. False rumors about death panels and cuts in benefits made the rounds. We are committed to correcting the record and ensuring seniors have the information they need  and get the high-quality care they have earned and deserve.

Stephanie Cutter is Assistant to the President for Special Projects