Part D Perspectives: National Grange

Part D Perspectives: National Grange

12.05.12 | By Kaelan Hollon

Below is the latest guest post in our "Part D Perspectives" series, which we'll be hosting through the rest of the year.

Grace Boatright, legislative director of the National Grange, shared her views on Part D and the positive impact it has had on Grange members.

The National Grange, founded in 1867, is a nonprofit organization deeply rooted in agriculture. The organization advocates for issues impacting rural Americans, which often involve health care. The average age of our membership is 55 and increasing, making Medicare and its ability to serve beneficiaries a high priority.

Please consider the following: Nearly 17 percent of the U.S. population lives in rural areas. While there are a number of advantages to rural life, incomes overall are lower and it can be challenging to deliver high quality health care to those who need it most. Medicare Part D is a tremendous driver of this.

Our members feel Part D is successful because it is efficient and affordable, two attributes that are vital for seniors living in these areas. The program saves our members about $2,000 a year and provides access to a variety of prescriptions they might not otherwise have been able to fill. Rural Americans are clearly satisfied with the program, but more education is needed for those who cannot easily access important information on this program's benefits. Not all seniors are computer savvy and have access to broadband Internet and we need to find ways to reach those individuals.

This is especially true for the Grange, whose membership is primarily located in rural areas. To achieve this, we serve as a type of middle-man between the information and our members who need it, working to ensure programs developed on the national level are distributed down to the state and local Granges. We also help our membership enroll in the program and shop for the choice that best fits their needs. In health care, there is not a "one size fits all" plan to fulfill each person's specific needs, so it really is important to look into all of the program's options to find the one that is right for you.

Overall, Part D is an incredible success. It is truly a unique government program because it encourages competition, which in turn drives down prices. However, we must find ways to continue to inform all those who are eligible through new outreach efforts and education programs.

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