Union retirees need Medicare Advantage

File photo of medical personnel by Don Murray, Getty Images.

By Dorsey Hager

Electricians, insulators, plumbers, and pipefitters — all building trades members spend their careers working to make lives across Ohio easier and more enjoyable. And after years of hard work, it is only right that these American workers receive high quality, affordable health care.

Medicare Advantage has been a valuable tool for retired union members, and even more so amid the COVID-19 crisis. But even before we saw the first COVID case in America, Medicare Advantage has had the backs of seniors.

By providing essential preventative health care through doctors, specialists, and pharmaceutical drug coverage, the program is by and large a success story. There is a reason why beneficiaries report overwhelming satisfaction with the program and why it has record bipartisan support. For years, this program has allowed seniors real choices when it comes to their health care with low to no premiums and co-payments.

Medicare Advantage has also stepped up to address the problems COVID-19 has presented. Seniors with Medicare Advantage can waive cost-sharing if they need treatment related to the coronavirus like testing and the vaccine. This means no copays, coinsurance, or deductibles. They are also able to access virtual telehealth programs, ensuring that seniors can continue to see their doctors, even when they may feel unsafe at a doctor’s office or hospital.

The program also understands that not every senior has the same access to care. A new bill introduced in Congress will make it easier for seniors to connect with their doctors if they face barriers to video visits. And as a health advocate for our union members, I strongly support the passage of this legislation.

Union employees are critical to the Ohio workforce, and we must continue to stand up for them, even in retirement. As a passionate health care advocate and a union employee, I urge Congresswoman Beatty and Senator Portman to join me in protecting Central Ohio’s retired union members by supporting both Medicare Advantage as well as audio-only telehealth. The Medicare Advantage program as well as the audio-only telehealth bills are critical in supporting retired union members as we make our way out of this healthcare crisis and back to normal life.

Dorsey Hager is the Executive Secretary-Treasurer of the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council. 

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