Michelle Grossman is president and CEO of the Community Health Charities of Nebraska. She spoke with Seniors Speak Out’s Nona Bear about issues seniors are facing in her area. Below is an abridged version of the interview.
Nona Bear (NB): How long have you been advocating for patients/seniors?
Michelle Grossman (MG): The Community Health Charities of Nebraska was founded in 1972 and is based in Omaha, Nebraska. We focus on uniting donors in the workplace with trusted health charities, working closely with groups including the Alzheimer’s Association, March of Dimes Foundation and the American Diabetes Association to advocate for individuals of all ages, ethnicity and social identity.
NB: What are some issues that seniors still struggle with regarding the Part D program?
MG: Right now, because the program works so well, people are concerned that it could be taken away from them. There is also concern with the Medicare donut hole, but people are learning more and more that it is eventually going to be closed.
NB: What is most important to the people you serve in terms of Medicare?
MG: I think access and choice are huge – the fact that patients can pick something that is tailored to and best fits their needs, as opposed to a generic cookie cutter type of plan, is very important.
NB: What changes have you seen the Part D program make in the lives of seniors?
MG: It has been really great to see people have the opportunity to access prescription drugs they need at affordable prices. It’s great to see them living longer, healthier lives because they are given access to medication that they really need.
NB: Have you also seen any specific changes for those people who qualify for the Low Income Subsidy or LIS program? Do they now have better access?
MG: Yes, we’ve seen negative health conditions decrease and diminish for people who couldn’t afford medication before but now can through the LIS program. Patients have become stronger and more productive members of society since their health has improved through better access.
NB: Any other points you’d like to make about Part D in your community or looking forward, items you wished people would be looking to about Part D?
MG: Part D is doing well as it is currently structured. People for the most part are satisfied, and we really do need to keep it in place as it is so that we don’t jeopardize what we’ve already given our seniors. They deserve it. They’ve earned it. And it’s important that we protect this program for them.