Issues Medicare Means Testing Feed
Each year, due to a faulty formula that's used to determine Medicare's reimbursement rates, doctors are threatened with sizable pay cuts. This year, if Congress fails to act, doctors will face a 25 percent cut. Lawmakers consistently override scheduled pay cuts with temporary "fixes," but many doctors have grown tired of the ritual and have stopped treating Medicare patients. The estimated cost of repealing the formula has recently dropped dramatically, and many are hoping to replace it in the coming months. Doing so would provide much-needed stability for Medicare beneficiaries. .In recent years, conversations about Social Security reform focused on the need to save funds by cutting benefits. While some lawmakers on Capitol Hill still favor an increase in the retirement age and a reduction in cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs), others have shifted the debate towards a growing retiree savings "crisis" and calling for expanding benefits instead. Three bills in particular would strengthen and modernize the Social Security program while making benefits more generous for all recipients, but especially for those who rely on them the most. These bills have won the support of many in Washington – including The Senior Citizens League: ."Even though Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket drug costs are the fastest growing and biggest financial challenge in retirement, that growth is not accounted for in the annual COLA," Johnson says. The consumer price index used to calculate the COLA for retirees reflects the spending pattern of young urban workers, and explicitly excludes people over the age 6But younger workers don't get Medicare, and spend a much lower portion of their incomes on healthcare. … Continued
Ask Advisor February March 2018
Another supporter told us: "I was paying 4 for a three-month supply of Aromasin. A few days ago, I discovered the new price would be 8 for three months … Pfizer has raised the price far too high for seniors on Medicare living on fixed incomes." .Federal records and senior advocates indicate that many observation patients who call Medicare about the billing problem are told there is nothing that Medicare can do to help. Hospitals are not required to tell patients they are under observation. Patients only learn they were receiving observation services when the bill arrives. By then it's too late because hospitals and doctors are prohibited from reclassifying observation patients as inpatients once they've been discharged. .Why does decision making have to be so hard? How much time is the right amount to spend on thinking things over? Can you even name anyone who never made a bad decision? We can't either. … Continued
This week, lawmakers in the House remained in their home districts to continue the summer recess. They are expected to return to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, September 4th. In the meantime, many Members of Congress will be attending local events and hosting town hall meetings in their home districts. The Senior Citizens League encourages its supporters to attend these events and to ask important questions of their elected officials, like the following five... .This week, The Senior Citizens League was pleased to see support grow for three bipartisan bills that would improve the Medicare program and reduce prescription drug prices. .Second, two new cosponsors – Representative Josh Harder (CA-10) and Representative Abby Finkenauer (IA-1) – signed on to the Social Security 2100 Act (H.R. 860), bringing the total up to 20This bill, if adopted, would comprehensively strengthen and reform the Social Security program. .Sen. Sanders organized a petition drive that has garnered 400,000 signatures so far, and he is hopeful that his campaign will help prevent the adoption of benefit cuts like the "chained" Consumer Price Index (CPI). While some conferees seem to agree with Sen. Sanders, others feel that changes like increased Medicare means testing should be considered as part of a package to replace the automatic sequester cuts, which are scheduled take effect on January 15th. .While 401(k) plans have enjoyed a decade of relatively strong returns recently, these plans carry greater risk and place responsibility on individuals for saving, investment decisions, and management. "These are three skills sets that most of us have never adequately learned, much less ever expected to practice after we retired," says Johnson. "One simple mistake can affect your standard of living in retirement for years," Johnson says. .COLAs Going To Be Flat In 2014 .Understand which type works best for you. Medicare supplemental or Medigap premiums currently tend to be higher, often by hundreds of dollars, than those of Medicare Advantage Plans. In fact, there are Medicare Advantage Plans that offered hospital, doctor, and prescription drug coverage for The House of Representatives did pass the needed legislation last week so now it moves to the Senate, where passage is not certain. That's because the Senate is equally divided 50-50 and no Republicans said they would support President Biden's Covid relief bill, which resulted in a 50-50 vote on the legislation. .The act also recalculates COLAs so future changes would be based on the price of goods and services seniors actually buy, like medications, by using a formula known as Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E). Currently, the COLA is based on CPI-W, which evaluates the entire economy, including infant and toddler apparel, nursery care, toys and school fees. .This year, I am currently gathering support for the Medicare Advantage Quality Payment Relief Act, which would require the HHS Secretary to take Medicare Advantage Quality Incentive payments out of the calculation of the Medicare Advantage benchmark cap. This will allow high performing plans to receive the quality payments that they rightfully earned and to use those payments to improve beneficiary care. ."The Senior Citizens League Wants to Know: "How Much Will You Spend on Medicare?"" .Benefits haven't kept pace with the cost of living and all changes that have occurred over the last 50 years. … .At the time of writing this week's legislative update, the bill had not yet been approved on the House floor. However, its passage is expected by early next week. Despite bipartisan support in the House, its prospects in the Senate remain uncertain. Lawmakers in that chamber have not yet acted on their version of the bill (S. 141). .Last week TSCL was contacted by the office of Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-Wash.) seeking our endorsement of legislation he is introducing titled the "Social Security Stabilization and Enhancement Act." Rep. DeFazio says this bill is a fix for the looming Social Security Trust Fund insolvency. . Zero premiums are also likely to end very soon. If Congress should cut reimbursements to plans as has happened in the past, some plans may respond by no longer offering coverage at all. Should Paula enroll in a Medicare Advantage plan and her plan ceases to offer coverage in the future, Paula could have problems finding something comparable that she could afford. .In February, after lawmakers allowed two government shutdowns to briefly take effect, Members of Congress finally passed the Bipartisan Budget Act of 201The massive budget deal set spending levels for two years and lifted the debt ceiling through March of next year. It came as a surprise to many in Washington – including The Senior Citizens League (TSCL) – and the agreement put an end to cycles of funding extensions that temporarily and irresponsibly funded the federal government for years. premiums in 200Don't let the lure of zero premiums fool you, because you will pay in other ways, especially if you get sick. .I know from meeting with friends and neighbors across my district that Americans are ready for the truth. They are ready for solutions. And they are ready for leadership. We must not be afraid to speak – and act – boldly on their behalf. .As you may have heard, Social Security recipients received a cost-of-living increase this year. This is good news for seniors, but it's not good enough.