Libby Nardo’s recent cataract laser surgery cost her $50, but without
Blue Shield 65 -- the health-insurance plan that supplements her
Medicare -- the Burbank resident said she would have had to pay
Nardo is more fortunate than many seniors, who find themselves
over- whelmed by escalating health-care costs at a time when they
most require medical care yet can least afford it.
Because of concerns about the rising costs of health care for
seniors in the Medicare+Choice program -- a federally funded plan
that allows Medicare subscribers to receive supplemental health
coverage through HMOs and other private-sector health plans, like
Blue Shield 65 -- Nardo, 79, joined about 100 seniors at a grass-roots rally Monday at the Joslyn Adult Center. The rally was
sponsored by the American Assn. of Health Plans, the Coalition for
Medicare Choices and Healthcare Dimensions, an organization that
promotes health through physical-activity programs.
David Goodspeed, corporate communications director of Health Care
Dimensions, said the rally was meant to bring concerned seniors
together and let them know people are fighting for their rights and
“We are here today to send a strong message to Congress about the
urgent need to increase funding for Medicare HMOs and other health
plans offered through the Medicare+Choice program,” Goodspeed said.
Goodspeed was joined by Mary Swanson, president and CEO of Health
Care Dimensions; Lisa Rubino, vice president of Blue Shield of
California; and Esteban Cruz, a family-practice physician with Kaiser
The cost of health care has increased 8% to 10% annually in recent
years, due in large part to new technology and the increasing cost of
medicine, but federal funding for senior health benefits has
increased by only 2% this year, Cruz said.
“Health plans just cannot afford to offer care in the
Medicare+Choice, so they drop out,” Cruz said.
The rally’s most important message, Nardo said, was to contact
legislators in Washington, D.C., to tell them not to cut funding for
Medicare. To that end, seniors received preprinted cards to send to
U.S. Sens. Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, urging them to press
for more funding.