Legislative Update February March 2018
The four stated that their proposal – The Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act – would "provide Medicare patients with the best healthcare in America," and that it would "forever protect seniors' interests by aligning them with self-interested politicians." But the plan is risky for two key reasons. First, it would eliminate Medicare completely, and second, it would do so beginning in 2014, affecting even current beneficiaries. Other proposals, including the plan released by House Budget Chair Paul Ryan (WI-1) in his fiscal 2013 budget, would offer traditional fee-for-service Medicare as an option to seniors, and would delay implementation to protect current enrollees from any drastic or sudden changes. In addition to phasing out traditional Medicare, The Congressional Health Care for Seniors Act would gradually increase the eligibility age to seventy, and it would increase means-testing measures so that wealthier seniors would pay a greater percentage of their healthcare costs. .Action on Capitol Hill was slow this week as lawmakers remained in their home states and districts for the holiday recess. They are expected to return to Capitol Hill to begin the second session of the 114th Congress on Tuesday, January 5th. Check back then for legislative news, or visit our new page on Twitter for more frequent updates. .Help! I'm turning 65 soon. My daughter says I should sign up for Medicare, but I don't know what to do or where to begin. I work for a small company with 17 employees, where I get my health insurance now. About a week is currently taken out of my paycheck for premiums. My current health coverage isn't that good. It has a ,500 deductible and, because I'm still in good health, I've never been able to benefit. … Continued
Q A January 2020
In fact, when the COLA increases since 2000 are compared with the typical cost increases that retirees experienced over the same period, Social Security benefits have lost 34% of their buying power. COLAs increased benefits a total of 46 percent, while typical senior expenses have jumped 96.3 percent between 2000 through the first week of 201To put it in perspective, for every 0 worth of groceries a retiree household could afford in 2000, they can only buy worth today. .Last Friday, lawmakers in the House and Senate adjourned for a week-long recess. They are expected to return to Capitol Hill on Monday, May 9th. In the meantime, many Members of Congress will be attending local events and holding town hall meetings, presenting constituents with an excellent opportunity to have their most pressing questions answered. .What Are The Ten Fastest Growing Senior Costs? … Continued
In January, lawmakers on Capitol Hill will likely begin efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, overhaul the tax code, dramatically alter trade deals, and confirm a new Supreme Court Justice. It remains to be seen which other policy issues will be prioritized by the Republican Congress. Efforts to reform the Social Security and Medicare programs have been on the table for years, and in the platform that the Republican party adopted back in July, lawmakers agreed that "of the many reforms being proposed, all options should be considered." Proposals to raise the Medicare eligibility age or to adopt the "chained" CPI – which would result in more slowly-growing Social Security cost-of-living adjustments – could see congressional action in 2017. .Medicare Savings Programs cover the cost of the Medicare Part B premium, saving a person 8.50 per month in 202Depending on income, those with the lowest income may also qualify for additional benefits that cover the Part B deductible and out-of-pocket costs. People with incomes in 2020 of up to ,456 per month (individual) or ,960 (married couples) might be eligible if they have limited savings and resources of ,860 (individuals) or ,800 (married couples). These limits are slightly higher for Hawaii and Alaska. This program is administered through state Medicaid programs and states may have guidelines that allow people with slightly higher income to enroll. If interested ,contact your local Medicaid office to apply. .A balanced budget amendment recently under consideration in Congress would have a disproportionate impact on Social Security and Medicare. These programs are responsible for about 40 percent federal spending in 201House Speaker Paul Ryan recently said he hopes to overhaul entitlement spending before he leaves Congress at the end of his term. .You should still watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, especially if you've been around someone who is sick. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, you should get tested and stay home and away from others. .But this doesn't necessarily mean that the rising Part B premium would reduce an individual's net Social Security benefits next year. Due to a special provision of law known as the Social Security "hold harmless" provision, the Medicare Part B premium is adjusted to prevent an overall reduction in Social Security benefits from December of the previous year. The provision only applies to about 70% of all Medicare beneficiaries, however, and does not protect people whose overall income is so low that their Medicare Part B premium is paid by state Medicaid programs, and individuals with incomes above ,000 or married couples with incomes above 5,000. .Sources: "The Long-Term Budget Outlook," CBO, June 20"CBO: Deficit Would Soar In Coming Decades Despite Obama's Health Overhaul," Lori Montgomery, The Washington Post, June 30, 2010. ."The high cost of prescription drugs forces people to do what we shouldn't have to do, like ordering drugs from Canada," says Susan. "I have a friend who went without one of her prescriptions because she didn't have the money, and she died of a stroke. Our government is not doing what it's supposed to do. It's a constant struggle and my husband hasn't retired yet because of our concern about the costs of his prescription drugs for which he currently gets good coverage from his job." .The situation is affecting lower-income seniors with modest resources because states require single seniors to exhaust nearly all of their assets, including their home equity, to qualify for Medicaid. Meyer reports that "Federal Medicaid rules allow states to exempt the home from consideration of financial eligiblilty if the family is making a good faith effort to sell, but not all states do." Depending on where they live, seniors may not qualify for Medicaid if they can't sell their home. .Unfortunately, this has become standard operating procedure in Congress, regardless of who's in power. And even shutting down the government for a period of time is no longer seen to be the drastic action it once was.