The DNC, RNC, and Medicare

If you’re like a lot of Americans, you’ve had more than your fill of political conventions as Election 2012 approaches.

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But though you may be glad you won’t have to tune in to another convention for another four years, now is as good a time as any to look back at the Democratic National Convention (DNC) and the Republican National Convention (RNC) and to ask ourselves: Where do both major parties stand this election year when it comes to health care in general and Medicare in particular?

The DNC, held in Charlotte, N.C., during the first full week in September, didn’t offer many surprises concerning the Democrats’ stand on health care. A few comments were made throughout the convention by speakers voicing support for so-called Obamacare, officially known as the Affordable Health Care Act, passed in 2010 and upheld by the Supreme Court earlier this year.

The Act will require most Americans to have health insurance by 2014.

It will also make it easier for many to have insurance they might previously have been denied. Insurance companies will be prohibited from denying anyone insurance due to preexisting conditions. It will also place limits on age-related increases in premiums. According to CNN, President Obama said such provisions of the health care law were intended to create an all-inclusive system.

Individuals opting to remain uninsured despite increased availability of insurance coverage will be required to pay a penalty or tax, depending on how you view it. While some critics of Obamacare characterize the Affordable Health Care Act as a tax hike, the President notes that “right now, everybody in America, just about, has to get auto insurance. Nobody considers that a tax increase. People say to themselves, that is a fair way to make sure that if you hit my car, that I’m not covering all the costs.”

Although there will be exceptions for people of low income and people with certain religious affiliations, Americans of all ages will be held to provisions of the Act. There are no provisions at present regarding eligibility for Medicare, but eligibility for Medicaid is to be expanded under the Act, though there is a possibility that some states will not go along with the expansion.

As far as Medicare is concerned, the Affordable Health Care Act addresses at least two areas of significance to Medicare recipients.

1. The Act provides for an increase in preventive health services.

Preventive health provisions of the Act have already taken effect. According to NPR, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that more than 14 million Medicare users received at least one free preventive health service during the first five months of 2012. NPR also reports that the law includes potentially far-reaching changes making it easier for seniors to receive medical services in their homes instead of at such institutional settings as nursing homes.

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