Senator Tester is a champion for Montana senior citizens. Seniors are a large and growing part of Montana's population, especially as the baby boom generation begins to retire. Jon is focused on ensuring seniors have the resources and independence to enjoy the quality of life we share as Montanans and Americans.
Health Reform Facts
- Protects Medicare. Health insurance reform makes Medicare even stronger. Guaranteed Medicare benefits are completely protected. The new health care law ensures Medicare will be effective and available for generations to come-and it saves money by getting rid of wasteful subsidies to big insurance companies as well as clamping down on fraud and abuse.
- Closes the donut hole. No senior should ever have to worry about not being able to afford life-saving prescription drugs. Health insurance reform closes the donut hole. In 2011, 10,415 seniors with Medicare received a 50 percent discount on their covered brand-name prescription drugs when they hit the donut hole. This discount resulted in an average savings of $615 per person in Montana. The savings will continue to grow until the donut hole is closed completely in 2020.
- Guarantees preventive care. Over 115,000 Montana seniors have already benefited from free annual preventive care visits. These services include cancer screenings, blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol tests, and flu and pneumonia shots.
- Coordinates care. For many seniors and their families, keeping track of the several different doctors who see a single patient with health problems-and making sure a patient's needs are met-is a full-time job. Health insurance reform will improve care coordination for seniors whether in their own home or a nursing home, or anywhere in between.
Keeping the Promise: Medicare & Social Security
- Senator Tester knows Medicare and Social Security are benefits earned from a lifetime of hard work. Folks deserve peace of mind that these benefits will continue to provide for necessities later in life.
- Cutting waste, fraud, and abuse is critical to ensuring the long-term stability of Medicare and Social Security. In 2011, Jon cosponsored legislation (S.1251) to thwart fraud and waste in the Medicare system.
- In 2011, Jon opposed the House of Representatives' plan and other extreme proposals to turn Medicare into a voucher system and end Medicare as we know it. And in 2012, he opposed this reckless plan again.
- Jon strongly opposes plans to privatize Social Security and opposes any reduction in benefits. He voted to protect any surplus from the Social Security trust fund and set it aside for social security. And Jon voted to ensure Social Security is not on the chopping block when working to cut the debt.
- Part of keeping this promise to Montana seniors is ensuring access to Medicare and Social Security services. When the Social Security Administration proposed closing the Great Falls remote hearing site, Jon stepped up to the plate. He fought to keep the hearing site open and won a victory for Montana seniors when the Social Security Administration relented on its plan in May 2012 and reopened a hearing site in Great Falls.
- Access to health care can be difficult for seniors who depend on Medicare in rural states like Montana. Jon voted to ensure rural health providers get fair reimbursement for caring for seniors on Medicare so Montana seniors can continue to access quality care close to home.
- As Montana's only member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Tester has worked to increase funding for programs that provide incentives to primary care providers working in rural and frontier areas through the National Health Service Corps.
Honoring Our Veterans
- Many Montana seniors are veterans who served their country honorably in the military. Senator Tester is working to ensure veterans have access to care close to home. As Montana's only member of the Senate Veterans Affairs Committee, Jon successfully boosted the VA's mileage reimbursement for disabled veterans from 11 cents to 41.5 cents per mile. Senator Tester has also secured funding for Vet Centers to provide care in communities across Montana.
Quality of Life and Independence
- Staying active and involved in the community is a key to ensuring independence and quality of life for seniors. Jon is a longstanding supporter of the Retired and Volunteer Service Program, the Foster Grandparent Program, and the Senior Companion Program. These programs-collectively known as the Senior Corps-should never be on the chopping block.
- Many seniors depend on resources like the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program to heat their homes in the wintertime. When cuts were proposed to the program in 2011, Jon led the charge to avoid leaving Montana seniors in the cold.
- To help seniors make ends meet in tough economic times, Jon supported a one-time $250 Social Security payment to beneficiaries who missed out on a cost-of-living payment.
- Research is the key to finding cures for degenerative diseases which impair the well-being of many late in life. Jon is an outspoken advocate for disease research, having cosponsored bills to promote research on diseases like arthritis (S.626), Alzheimer's (S.1492), breast cancer (S.384), diabetes (S.1468), multiple sclerosis (S.Res.396), ovarian cancer (S.2569), pancreatic cancer (S.362), and prostate cancer (S.Res.597). He also introduced his own bill to ensure cross-agency collaboration on prostate cancer research (S.1190).
- With one in four Montana seniors suffering from abuse, Senator Tester is making sure Montanans have the tools they need to protect the state's elderly population. Jon is a cosponsor of the Elder Protection and Abuse Prevention Act (S.2077) to make it easier to report elder abuse and make sure senior service organizations are looking for signs of abuse and neglect.
- Unfortunately, all too often seniors are the target of financial fraud and identity theft. As a member of the Senate Banking Committee, Senator Tester helped pass Wall Street reform, which protects investors with tough new rules for transparency and accountability.
- Unemployment rates for older workers are at historic highs, and once older workers lose their jobs, they face much longer periods of unemployment than younger workers. Age discrimination complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission jumped by nearly 30 percent between 2007 and 2008. Senator Tester cosponsored the Protecting Older Workers Against Discrimination Act (S.2189) to treat employment discrimination based on age the same as discrimination based on race, gender, or any other factor.
- Big Sky Rx
As President of the Montana Senate in 2005, Senator Tester sponsored and passed legislation to create the Big Sky Rx program. This program helps qualifying Medicare beneficiaries pay their prescription drug bills.
- Eldercare Locator
A public service of the U.S. Administration on Aging to connect older adults and their families to services.
Or call 1-800-633-4227. Have your Medicare ID number ready. If you do not have Medicare yet and have questions, just say aloud, "Agent", and a live person will assist you. This is the most knowledgable general resource for Medicare and they have live agents 24 hours a day.
- Montana Area Agencies on Aging
Area Agencies on Aging connect seniors with services in their communities. Visit this site to find the area agency on aging nearest you.
- State Health Insurance Program
Or call 1-800-551-3191. You can meet an insurance counselor face to face or by phone to help you enroll in the right Medicare-related program for you.