New Legislative News Post
Second, one new cosponsor – Congressman Ro Khanna (CA-17) – signed on to the Consumer Price Index for Elderly Consumers (CPI-E) Act (H.R. 1251), bringing the total up to fifty-two. If adopted, the CPI-E Act would base Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) on the more fair and adequate CPI-E. Currently, COLAs are based on the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners (CPI-W), and they fail to keep pace with the inflation experienced by older Americans. .Also putting pressure on the program, TSCL anticipates that more people will file claims for benefits. While employment was at record levels just a few months ago, many older adults postponed filing for benefits to allow their Social Security payouts and retirement accounts to grow. Now, faced with paid sick leave and unemployment benefits ending, older workers are unlikely to be able to afford to wait to file for benefits if they have lost their jobs. In addition, workers lucky enough to have 401(k)s and IRAs have experienced significant losses in the value of those retirement accounts and will be depending on Social Security all the more. Big changes in equity prices reduce the distributions from those accounts. .The amount you pay for your CT scan will vary by your Medicare Advantage plan and whether you get your CT scan from a preferred provider. You will need to call your plan to learn the out-of-pocket cost details, and to make sure the facility, doctors, and medical technicians performing the CT scan are preferred providers with your Medicare Advantage plan. You could pay considerably more if you use providers who are not under contract with your Medicare Advantage plan. Call the customer service number on the back of your health plan's card, have your questions written down and be ready to take notes. … Continued
October 2014 Market Watch
At the hearing, the witnesses explained the intricacies of the prescription drug price-setting process and the drivers of rising costs. Doctor Anderson told the committee members, "Drug pricing is extremely complex … When a company has a monopoly, it sets the price that maximizes its profit and that's not the price that allows all people to get access to the drug." Doctor Howard urged Congress to "create incentives that reward providers who use medicines and technology to deliver care as efficiently as possible, while also empowering patients with the information they need to identify high-quality providers." .But if your mom has lived with you some months already, you will need to determine if her former Medicare Advantage plan has already learned from CMS or the Postal Service of the move. If she moved over six months ago, then the plan should disenroll your mom 12 months after the move, but her Special Enrollment Period begins at the beginning of the sixth month and continues through the end of the eighth month after your move. .The traditional formula does not take into account rising Medicare premiums, deductibles and expenses for prescription drugs that have had increasing effects on this segment in recent years. The revised formula accounted for 15.9 percent of seniors 65 or older living in poverty, which nearly doubled the percentage used in the traditional formula. In total, a record level of 49.1 million Americans are considered in poverty, according to the new estimates. … Continued
Local Lion's Club. Local chapters may have programs to assist people with severe vision impairment, and some clubs run the Affordable Hearing Aid Project, which distributes three types of affordable hearing aids. To find contact details for your local chapter, visit: Lions Club Directory. .One of TSCL's goals this year was to end "surprise billing" – the situation that happens when some types of medical providers, including anesthesiologists, radiologists, pathologists, and labs may not be contracted with your health insurer even though they provide services at a hospital or facility that is in your health plan's provider network. So, in addition to your expected out-of-pocket costs, you also get a bill for the difference between what your insurer has agreed to pay that provider and the amount the provider billed for their services. .The issue of physician choice and access to care for Medicare recipients arises time and again as Congress has taken last minute action to prevent drastic cuts to physician reimbursements. Only repeated, last-minute actions have saved doctors from substantial pay cuts. Cutting reimbursements for doctors has surface appeal because it does not require seniors to pay additional dollars out-of-pocket. However, there is a hidden cost. Physicians who live under constant fear of substantial cuts may opt to stop serving Medicare patients, resulting in loss of access to care for many seniors. .Where Can I Get Help With What Medicare Doesn't Cover? .It remains to be seen how the CR debate will unfold in the coming weeks, but TSCL will monitor it closely since another government shutdown could have serious effects on Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries. For updates as the situation develops, visit the Legislative News section of our website. .Getting the maximum you've earned on your personal work record requires some homework and planning. You can't count on getting all of your retirement advice from the Social Security Administration. According to TSCL's Senior Survey, 77% of participants said they received no counseling from Social Security staff about the best age to start benefits, undoubtedly because people are directed to sign up for benefits online. .Let's consider what the I.O.U.s held by Social Security represent. The I.O.U.s are bookkeeping entries, a lot like entries in checking accounts, but are not represented by real cash sitting in a strong box anywhere. The U.S Treasury collects Social Security payroll taxes from employers. In turn, the U.S. Treasury issues I.O.U.s to the Social Security trust fund. In the meantime, those payroll taxes are immediately used for other federal budget operations. When more payroll taxes were collected than needed to pay benefits, that reduced the amount of borrowing from the public that was needed for the general revenues, and lowered taxes. Now, however, the situation has reversed, and the Treasury must increase borrowing from the public to redeem the I.O.U.s held by the trust fund in order to pay benefits. Increased borrowing, and the cost of interest on the debt, further drives up our federal spending. According to many economists, that can weaken our economy, and our nation's ability to respond to a crisis. .In a letter of support, Art Cooper – Chairman of The Senior Citizens League's Board of Trustees – wrote: "The Senior Citizens League's supporters – most of whom are enrolled in the Social Security program – question why Congress has not yet acted to address the funding challenges of the Social Security Administration in order to ensure the service that beneficiaries have earned and deserve … As such, The Senior Citizens League salutes you for introducing the Social Security Administration Fairness Act." .In the months ahead, TSCL will continue to advocate for these and other legislative efforts that would improve the solvency of Social Security and Medicare without cutting benefits for seniors.