Background on the President's Tele-Town Hall with Seniors
The President will participate in a national telephone-town hall meeting at the Holiday Park Multipurpose Senior Center in Wheaton, Maryland with senior citizens to discuss new Medicare benefits and protections under the Affordable Care Act and new efforts to combat senior scams and reduce waste, fraud and abuse in advance of the first mailing of the $250 “donut hole” rebate checks, which begin mailing on Thursday. There will be 120 local seniors in attendance, in addition, more than 10,000 seniors across the country will be able to participate in the town hall meeting via phone.
The President has directed the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to cut the improper payment rate, which tracks fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicare Fee for Service program, in half by 2012.
Today, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder sent a letter to state attorneys general urging them to work with HHS and federal, state, and local law enforcement officials prevent scams and fraud and protect seniors on Medicare.
Additionally, Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and senior officials from the Administration on Aging and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services today launched a national education effort to ensure that seniors have the information they need to protect themselves from potential scams or fraud when it comes to their Medicare benefits. The campaign will begin with a $1 million national radio buy that will run in June through August as $250 tax-free rebate checks get mailed to eligible seniors each month.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will moderate the Q and A session.
Carol Fuentevilla, Director of the Holiday Park Multipurpose Senior Center, will introduce Secretary Sebelius.
Carol Fuentevilla has been the Holiday Park Center and Program Director for 8 years. In all, she has been with the center for 20 years, as program director. Senior health and housing issues have been her priority for 40 years. She started work with the Philadelphia Corporation for Aging in 1970. She is originally from Philadelphia and moved to the Washington area 28 years ago. Before her time at Holiday Park, she worked at the Senior Housing Opportunity Commission Buildings working on social and recreation issues.
Fran Garfinkle will introduce the President.
Fran and her husband Eddie are retired small business owners with private health insurance until they qualified for Medicare. Two years ago they began collecting Social Security benefits while continuing to work part-time for supplemental income.
In December 2007, Fran was diagnosed with breast cancer and faced surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and medications. Last July when Fran went to fill her prescription she was told by the pharmacist that she fell into the “donut hole” and would have to pay for the medicine on her own. And on top of that, she would also have to pay the full price for the 3 other medications she needed. Fran researched alternatives but there were no free samples available, no generic equivalent, and she didn’t qualify for any of the drug assistance programs. Faced with expensive medication costs on a fixed income, she and her husband cut as many corners as they could and were able to purchase the prescriptions that Fran needed last year. Then in May of this year, she received the news that she had again reached the “donut hole” and would be responsible for paying the full cost of her prescription drugs.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, Fran will be one of the millions of seniors who will receive a $250 “donut hole” rebate check to help pay for her prescriptions.
ELECTED OFFICIALS EXPECTED TO ATTEND
US Senator Barbara Mikulski
US Representative Donna Edwards
US Representative Chris Van Hollen
Governor Martin O’Malley
State Senator Richard Madaleno
State Delegate Alfred Carr, Jr.
State Delegate Jeff Waldstreicher
State Delegate Ana Sol Gutierrez
LIST OF SUPPORTING ORGANIZATIONS AND GROUPS
HHS has worked with the below listed supporting organizations and groups to send a conference call-in number for the town hall to over 400,000 seniors and set up over 100 watch parties in senior centers and private homes across the country.
Alliance for Retired Americans
American Association of Homes and Services for the Aging
American Federation of Teachers Program on Retirement and Retirees
American Postal Workers Union Retirees Department
B’nai B’rith International
Center for Medicare Advocacy, Inc
Communications Workers of American Retiree Division
International Union of Painters & Allied Trades (IUPAT)
Medicare Rights Center
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
National Association of Area Agencies on Aging
National Association of State Units on Aging
National Association of Nutrition and Aging Services Programs
National Association of State Long Term Care Ombudsman Programs
The National Caucus and Center on Black Aged
National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare
National Council on Aging
The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care (NCCNHR)
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
The Voice of Midlife and Older Women (OWL)
Service and Advocacy for GLBT Elders