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Tuesday, November 28, 2023
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Christensen Takes to Airwaves to Support Healthcare Reform

Medicare was a hot topic when Delegate Donna M. Christensen took to the radio Monday to discuss proposed healthcare reform.
At issue for Medicare recipients is the prescription drug "doughnut hole," that financial abyss that comes after Medicare Part D, which pays for prescriptions, covers the first $2,700 of prescription drug costs. Recipients are responsible for the next $1,650 worth of medications, but Medicare starts paying again once the $4,350 threshold is reached.
"In 2013 the doughnut hole begins to close," Christensen said.
However, that closure depends on whether a healthcare reform bill makes it way through the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. There is fierce opposition, but Christensen said that much of it comes from people who are misinformed.
In discussing the Medicare situation, Christensen said if health care reform is passed, it will take 10 years to totally close the doughnut hole, but she said she and others are working to speed that up.
In the meantime, she said pharmaceutical companies have agreed to cut their prices 50 percent for those paying in the doughnut hole.
Additionally, the bill would increase Medicare payments to doctors, which she hopes will convince more of them to accept Medicare patients.
"It’s not compulsory that they take Medicare," Christensen said.
According to Christensen, there is no truth to the rumor spread by former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, who ran for vice-president in the last election, that the end-of-life counseling provided under the bill will result in "death panels" that decide who gets health care and who doesn’t.
Instead, she said the people who explain things like hospice care would get paid for their efforts. And she said patients and their families would decide what’s best for older people.
A suggestion that Obama is backing away from the proposed public-run health insurance plan as an option for those who need health insurance was in the news all weekend. However, Christensen said that she strongly supports a public component.
"It will provide a standard that will help to lower insurance costs that private plans won’t do," she said.
She said it would operate similar to Medicare.
As the bill is now written, Christensen said insurance premium subsidies would be available. For example, she said that family of four that made $88,000 a year would be eligible.
"No one would be required to pay more than 11 percent of their income," she said.
Christensen said she was unaware until she began to work on the bill that insurance companies charged women higher premiums than men, but that will end if health care reform goes through.

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