• Calls Continue For Major Medicare Changes

    At the hearing, the Ranking Member of the Committee – Senator Bob Casey (PA) – presented a bill he introduced called the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act. If adopted, his bill would simplify the Medicare enrollment process and help those nearing eligibility avoid costly penalties for late enrollment. .We want to emphasize that these are all projections based on the economic situation at the time they were developed. As we have seen in the past year, things can change dramatically and clearly, we still don't know how things will be in the coming months and year with regard to the pandemic. .Members of the House adjourned for a week-long recess on Monday, but budget talks continued for the lawmakers that sit on the bicameral conference committee. While many have reportedly been meeting behind closed doors, Sen. Bernard Sanders (VT) took his message public in a news conference that announced his opposition to including entitlement cuts in a budget package. He said this week, "On these issues, Congress is way out of touch. The American people do not want to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid." … Continued

  • Legislative Update Week Ending March 31 2017

    Social Security benefits are determined by the income earned (up to the taxable maximum) over a working career, and the number of years worked. The more money you make and pay taxes on, and the more years you work the larger your monthly Social Security benefit will be. The Social Security Administration calculates your benefits based on the 35 years in which you earned the most money. But many women, especially those who become mothers or caregivers, give up a substantial portion of their earnings to care for a family. .The extensions will cost approximately 0 billion over ten years, and billion of that will be paid for by spending cuts and revenue increases. The remaining 0 billion, however, will be added to the budget deficit. .Example: Let's say Sally had a Social Security benefit of ,000 in 201The Part B premium that year was 4.90. In 2016 there was no COLA, and Sally continued to receive ,000. But the Medicare Part B premium in 2016 increased to 1.80 per month. Sally's Part B premium was adjusted downward and she continued to pay the same 4.90 Medicare Part B premium that she paid the previous year, to prevent a reduction in her Social Security benefits in 2016. … Continued

Surprise! A new Part D plan drug pricing program may lower costs for those who seek out the savings. Recent Congressional scrutiny on drug pricing may be spurring some drug plans to drop prices on certain drugs. A new drug plan pricing program offered by Cigna, for example, lowers the cost of insulin. In 2018, the lowest cost Part D plan charged an copay for a 100/ML of Lantus Solostar. In 2019, the lowest cost plan in my area charges copays as low as .00 - .00 for Lantus Solostar in the Cigna-HealthSpring Rx Secure — Extra Part D plan. The highest cost plan, which does not cover Lantus, charges the full price, 3.18 per 100/ML. Which would you rather have? .Unless something totally extraordinary happens, the President is expected to sign the bill prior to midnight on the 28th and at long last the federal government will be fully funded through the remainder of fiscal year 2021 and much needed economic stimulus and rescue money will be sent to taxpayers and businesses alike. .In addition, one new cosponsor signed on to the Beneficiary Enrollment Notification and Eligibility Simplification (BENES) Act (H.R. 2575), bringing the total up to eighteen. The new cosponsor is Representative Seth Moulton (MA-6). If signed into law, the BENES Act would simplify the Medicare enrollment process and better inform those approaching Medicare eligibility about their future benefits and the application process. ."The loss of a job not only means the loss of income, but it also can mean the loss of healthcare benefits, and both employee and employer contributions to retirement accounts," Johnson notes. Depending on how long older workers remain out work, a growing number may turn to Social Security and file claims for benefits earlier than originally planned. That can mean permanently reduced benefits for people who haven't reached their full retirement age. .But when hold harmless is triggered more widely than usual, as we expect to be the case in 2021, there is no provision of law with which to finance the unpaid portion of Medicare Part B premium increases of the roughly 43 million who are protected by the provision. In the past, Congress has chosen to allow this cost burden to shift to the 30 percent of beneficiaries who are not held harmless. Because the cost is spread over far fewer people, instead of all beneficiaries, those who are not protected by hold harmless pay a far larger share of the costs, thus the huge Part B premium jumps. .I believe it is imperative that we fully support programs that protect the nation's most vulnerable, and ensure that they can easily access them in their time of need. The SNAP Simplification for the Elderly Act will make great strides in that direction. .The Senior Citizens League encourages older Americans to contact their Senators now to ask for their support in passing this legislation. To learn more, visit . .(For more details see our "FAHow ‘Undocumented' Workers Are Becoming Entitled To Social Security.") Of particular importance is an exception that applies to immigrants receiving benefits living in a country with which the U.S. has a totalization agreement. It appears that under the U.S./Mexico Totalization Agreement, all that any illegal Mexican worker must do to qualify for benefits is return to Mexico. Once a claim has been filed, the U.S. Social Security system counts all earnings, even for jobs worked without legal authorization, to determine entitlement to benefits. TSCL is particularly wary of how the 2012 presidential election may affect the status of the agreement. And, even if voters send a new president to the White House, the agreement will continue to remain pending even if no action is taken by President Obama, for the next President's consideration. .Last year Congress considered a major Medicaid overhaul that would transition the program from one that covers qualified applicants whose incomes are low enough, to a system that provides a fixed per capita payment or block grant to states. The Congressional Budget Office estimated this change would cut federal spending on Medicaid by more than 25% over the next decade. Despite lawmakers' failure to enact the change to Medicaid last year, some lawmakers in Congress and president Trump may try again this year.