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Facts About the New Health Care Law

By Senator Ben Nelson

Do you realize that the new health care law is projected to actually reduce the budget deficit? It’s true. It will reduce the deficit not by reducing benefits but by reducing the growth in Medicare spending by doing such things as cutting overpayments to Medicare Advantage.

Only 14 percent of America’s senior citizens are aware of the fact that the health care law will reduce the deficit according to a new survey commissioned by the National Council on Aging.  That survey also finds most seniors are confused about many important aspects of the new health reform law, including how it will affect their own Medicare coverage.

The poll was conducted by Harris Interactive in early July of 636 adults age 65 and over. The Council on Aging identified the top 12 facts that every senior should know about the health reform law. They called it the "Straight Talk" poll and it revealed that only 17% of seniors knew the correct answers to more than half the factual questions, and only 9% knew the correct answers to at least two-thirds of the questions.

Even among seniors who considered themselves "very familiar" (9%) or "familiar" (12%) with the new law, correct answers were few and far between. Specifically the poll points out:

• Only 22% understood that the new law would not cut their basic Medicare benefits

• 14% were aware that the new law is projected to reduce the budget deficit

• 14% knew that the law does not cut Medicare payments to doctors

• 24% of seniors knew that it is projected to extend the solvency of the Medicare Trust Fund

• 28% knew that the law improves the availability of long-term care at home

• 33% knew about the new, free yearly Medicare wellness visit

In response to these findings, the National Council on Aging has launched Straight Talk for Seniors on Health Reform. This is a national campaign to help seniors get the facts they need. It includes educational events, downloadable fact sheets, an interactive online quiz, detailed poll results, and presentations to help the aging network share health reform facts with the seniors they serve.

All campaign materials can be found at http://www.ncoa.org/straighttalk.

A key document summarizes 5 important facts that every senior should know about health care reform:

1. The law will not cut your basic Medicare benefits—and it will make some benefits better.

2. The law will reduce Medicare spending growth, extend Medicare solvency, and is projected to reduce the budget deficit.

3. The law will make it easier to receive and pay for long-term care at home.

4. The law will improve care for older adults in other ways.

5. The law will improve health insurance coverage for most younger Americans who don't have Medicare.

I encourage seniors to go on-line and take the survey themselves and find out the correct answers to each of the questions: http://www.ncoa.org/public-policy/health-care-reform/straight-talk/straight-talk-quiz.html.