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Commentary: Protect funding for Medicare Advantage, which promotes senior health

From the column: "Benefits and services come together to provide seniors with health care coverage that allows them to feel independent in many ways. Older adults can age at home."

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Roxanne Jenkins

As we age, we hope to grow increasingly connected to our communities. Often, family, friends, and neighbors provide us with routine and connection to one another. For seniors especially, this has led to a strong desire to age in the comfort of our homes and communities of choice.

Aging at home is not always easy and can be expensive. That is why plans like Medicare Advantage are crucial to providing seniors with the sense of independence they desire while also giving the support and services older adults need to stay healthy.

Medicare Advantage is unlike other health care programs, as it coordinates with community partners and services to assist older adults in aging comfortably and independently. Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota is one of those community partners helping to support their needs.

One of the goals of our joint mission is to address more than just the medical side of health. This is where Medicare Advantage truly stands out in providing the best support network for seniors. Whereas other programs simply cover prescription-drug costs and doctor visits, Medicare Advantage connects seniors with wellness programs, fitness classes, grocery planning and delivery services, and more.

This full-service approach to health is what allows seniors on Medicare Advantage to have better health outcomes in all aspects of life — strengthening their independence and options to remain living in their own home or community of choice.

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Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota sees the positive impacts of Medicare Advantage on our community firsthand. Seniors are having to make fewer emergency-room visits; and thanks to the proactive goals of Medicare Advantage, seniors are identifying and treating chronic diseases earlier, resulting in fewer long-lasting effects.

All of these benefits and services come together to provide seniors with health care coverage that allows them to feel independent in many ways. Older adults can age at home, stay connected with their community, and receive the health care and coverage they need at a price that works for them.

We must continue to support the benefits Medicare Advantage has provided to the 440,000 seniors in Minnesota. With the potential for federal cuts to Medicare Advantage, in order to fund other programs in the Reconciliation Package, I’m asking Minnesota’s U.S. Sens. Tina Smith and Amy Klobuchar to protect Medicare Advantage from cuts. Seniors deserve a commitment to their well-being, and slashing funding would be detrimental for them.

Our senators can help lead Congress in keeping up the fight for senior health and independence by rejecting cuts to Medicare Advantage.

Roxanne Jenkins is associate vice president of older adult services at Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota ( lssmn.org ), which is based in St. Paul and serves the entire state.

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