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As the owner of a Curves health club in southeastern San Diego, where women have access to 30-minute exercise classes, I have the privilege of meeting women young and old from throughout my neighborhood. It turns out that senior citizens are a large portion of my members, with many participating in “SilverSneakers” classes for active, older adults. These classes are taught by highly trained instructors who can tailor-make each class to meet the needs and specifications of the individuals who come in. In addition to the general benefits derived from the exercise classes, I have also witnessed many senior citizens befriend their fellow exercisers who share similar interests and hobbies, creating bonds that are often difficult to make in one’s golden years. “SilverSneakers” classes are a great benefit for the participants, their friends, families and even the government’s bottom line due to the fact that preventive care, such as exercise, substantially lowers the burden for the American taxpayer.
Despite the fact that these seniors derive great benefit from the classes provided by my company and many other wellness facilities across the country, Congress is threatening to cut funding for the very program that makes these classes possible — Medicare Advantage. Every senior citizen who participates in a “SilverSneakers” class, no matter the location, is a beneficiary of Medicare Advantage. This version of Medicare offers a lot of flexibility and choices that aren’t available in other Medicare packages. Many of my members have voiced their concern over the potential of losing access to a program their health insurance plan covers should Congress slash hundreds of billions in funding for the program. This is bad for my members and bad for business.
It’s time for Congress to step up and support the wellness programs offered by Medicare Advantage so that our aging seniors can stay healthy and strong, sweating in a workout program instead of sweating over the loss of their preventive healthcare program.
Debbie Muench is the owner of a local Curves health club.
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