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Health

Expert Tells Older Kansans 'ACA Strengthens Medicare'

The top Medicare expert at the Kaiser Family Foundation says the health care program for older Americans is stronger today than it was four years ago-and the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is the reason why. Bryan Thompson spoke with Tricia Neuman while she was in Salina for an annual senior fair.

Neuman told an audience of more than 400 older Kansans that just two years ago, the Congressional Budget Office predicted Medicare’s hospital fund would run out of money in 2024. Now it’s expected to remain solvent until 2030, even as large numbers of Baby Boomers come into the program as they reach age 65. Politicians such as Kansas Senator Pat Roberts claim the Affordable Care Act threatens "massive Medicare cuts for Kansas seniors.” Neuman says Obamacare has slowed the growth in Medicare spending.

“That’s good for the economy," he says. "That’s good for Medicare. That’s good for the federal budget. And the changes that have taken place have not harmed people, and that’s quite important.”

Neuman says the biggest savings are from reducing the incentives paid to private insurance companies for offering privatized Medicare Advantage plans. In addition, the Affordable Care Act penalizes hospitals for avoidable readmissions—patients who end up back in the hospital because they were discharged without the follow-up care they need to recover. Neuman says readmission rates have dropped the past two years, helping to further control Medicare costs.