Celebrating 45 Years of Medicare
Don Berwick, M.D., Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Forty-five years ago today, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed Medicare into law – forever changing and improving our nation’s health care system by guaranteeing health care services for seniors and persons with disability. Before Medicare, millions of the nation’s seniors were uninsured. Since then, Medicare has been the bedrock of the nation’s health care system.
The Affordable Care Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in March of this year, will also make lasting improvements to the nation’s health care system by giving Americans more affordable access to coverage. And the Affordable Care Act builds on Medicare’s promise of health care security by strengthening Medicare for today’s seniors and for their children and grandchildren.
If you are covered by Medicare, here’s what you will see from Medicare under the Affordable Care Act:
- More benefits. Your guaranteed benefits under Medicare remain. Starting next year, help is on the way for if you are struggling to afford preventive services. Co-pays and other cost-sharing for key preventive services such as colon cancer screening and mammograms will be eliminated. And you can receive free annual wellness check-ups.
- Fighting fraud and keeping Medicare strong. Reducing waste, fraud and abuse is critical to ensuring that Medicare’s precious resources are going to support the health and well-being of seniors like you. We are committed to cutting fraud in the traditional Medicare program in half by 2012. The dollars we save will go right back into the Medicare trust funds to preserve the life of the program.
- Lower drug costs. The Medicare “donut hole” is a gap in prescription drug coverage where people with Medicare have to pay the full cost of their drugs. That gap will be closed under the Affordable Care Act. This year, if you fall into the donut hole, you will receive a one-time, tax-free rebate check for $250. Next year, if you reach the donut hole, you will receive about 50% off the cost of your brand name drugs, and by 2020 the donut hole will have been gradually closed.
- Better quality care. Medicare has long led the way in improving how care is delivered in America. Under the Affordable Care Act, we are going to keep improving quality by encouraging more integrated, coordinated care. Community health teams will provide patient-centered care so you won’t have to see multiple doctors who don’t work together.
Today, CMS is not only celebrating Medicare’s 45th anniversary but also using it as an opportunity to redouble its efforts to educate and inform people with Medicare and their family members about the many changes and improvements to the program’s various options in advance of Medicare Open Enrollment. We have done mailings for beneficiaries, posted materials on Medicare.gov, and unveiled radio ads educating beneficiaries about where to go to get their questions answered and how to prevent fraud and scams. CMS is also launching a Medicare television campaign featuring popular TV personality Andy Griffith. You can watch the ad by visiting www.Medicare.gov and look for it on cable television in the days ahead.
Here’s to another 45 years of a strong Medicare program!