McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — Open enrollment for Medicare has begun and sign-ups for the Affordable Care Act will start soon, U.S. Rep. Henry Cuellar, D-Texas, said Wednesday, adding that both programs are vital to the health of low-income border communities.
Cuellar spoke during a media conference call from Washington, D.C., in which he said the Trump administration has cut advertising for the ACA — also known as Obamacare — which President Donald Trump has openly criticized and repeatedly tried to get Congress to repeal.
Cuellar, whose district includes Laredo and Mission in South Texas on the Texas-Mexico border, said the administration is hardly funding any ads for the ACA marketplace insurance “in the hopes that people will think it has gone away.”
But it hasn’t, and Cuellar added that open enrollment for ACA — which is designed to ensure that every American is covered under some type of medical insurance — will be from Nov. 1 to Dec. 15.
Since the Affordable Care Act was implemented in 2010, over 20 million uninsured American adults have gained health insurance coverage, Cuellar said. This is because the law provides consumers with subsidies — or “premium tax credits” — that lower costs for households with incomes between 100 percent and 400 percent of the federal poverty level.
This includes over 1 million Texans enrolled in ACA in 2019 — 28 percent of whom are Hispanic, and 6 percent African-American.
Medicare enrollment ends Dec. 7
Open enrollment for Medicare will end on Dec. 7. Medicare insures seniors over age 65 and those with a disability.
In 2018, over 60 million Americans, or 18 percent of the population, were enrolled in Medicare. In Texas, over 4 million people were enrolled, which was 14 percent of the state’s population.
To review Medicare coverage and benefits, go to Medicare.gov.
Cuellar: Skip trips south of the border
Cuellar said enrollment is particularly important for the overall health of American communities, and he urged constituents to take part in these programs rather than go across the border to Mexico for prescriptions or doctor services.
Many seniors, particularly “Winter Texans” who come to South Texas during the winters, will regularly go to Mexico border communities, like Nuevo Progreso across from Progeso, Texas, for eyeglasses, medical care and random prescription drugs.
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