Legislative Update Week Ending May 12 2017
"That estimate tracks closely with the CPI data through August," Johnson says. "Overall inflation readings are very low, but that's almost entirely due to the dramatic drop in oil prices again this year," she notes. Meanwhile, the data show some big jumps in the cost of goods and services that older and disabled Americans use the most. But that won't necessarily translate into higher COLAs, because the index used to calculate the annual Social Security boost is based on the spending patterns of younger working adults. Younger people tend to spend less on health care and housing, and more on gasoline and electronics, two categories that have gone down in recent years. .In 1977 Congress enacted changes to the Social Security benefit formula that affected seniors just two years from first entitlement to Social Security. A transitional formula supplied by Congress to phase in the changes, failed to prevent abrupt cuts and big disparities – as much as 1.80 per month in the well – publicized case of two sisters who worked for the same company. .In the months ahead, TSCL's legislative team will closely monitor proposals that would impact older Americans, and we will continue to advocate for legislation that would strengthen and modernize the Social Security and Medicare programs responsibly, without enacting harsh benefit cuts. … Continued
Legislative Update January 2013
In a press release, Mary Johnson – a policy analyst for TSCL – recently said: "Anyone who cares about his or her health coverage, Medicaid, or Medicare should contact their Members of Congress now." Since many in Congress are undecided on the AHCA, it is not too late for grassroots advocates to make an impact. TSCL encourages its members and supporters to call their representatives in Congress immediately to request their opposition to the AHCA. Contact information can be found HERE. .The Pharmaceutical Care Management Association, which represents pharmacy benefit managers that run the Medicare prescription drug plans targeted by the rebate rule, said at the time that it was exploring litigation. .In his opening statement, Congressman Buddy Carter (GA-1) – the sole pharmacist in Congress – said, "I'm disgusted that we're here today to talk about drug price increases … I know free market principles are the best way to provide quality, affordable health care to the American people. But what was done here was different. Perverse business practices were employed to exploit a patient group trying to do nothing more than to extend their lives … I'll tell you that you can meet your shareholders' needs, that you can meet your board's needs, and still take care of the American public." … Continued
Medicare Extra Help helps pay for some, or most, of the out-of-pocket costs for Medicare prescription drug coverage. It is also known as the Part D "Low-Income" subsidy. Extra Help pays for the Part D premium up to a certain amount (specific to your state), lowers the cost of your prescription drugs, gives you special enrollment periods to switch plans, and eliminates the Part D late enrollment penalty if you did not enroll in Part D by your original deadline. If your income is under ,615 (individuals) or ,175 (married couples) and you have limited savings and resources, you might be eligible. Apply for Medicare Extra Help on the Social Security website www.SSA.gov. .High drug or health plan premiums don't necessarily purchase better coverage. For example, the generic blood pressure medication Lisinopril is one of the most commonly used prescriptions by Medicare beneficiaries. The least expensive Part D plan in my area charges Are there any plans without an annual maximum? These plans fall into two main types, dental health maintenance organizations (DHMO), and discount dental plans. A DHMO will require you to use in network dentists, and to get referrals from your dentist when you need a specialist. You pay nothing extra when you receive preventive services that are covered by your plan premium. There are also discount dental plans that negotiate discounted rates with a network of dentists. Patients get discounts at dentist's office, but pay their dentists directly at the time of service. There is no waiting period for this type of plan. .Now the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has told hospitals they can't hide their prices from web searches. .If our forecast proves correct, this would. .Despite these obstacles, Rep. Rogers and Sen. Mikulski have said they remain committed to passing an omnibus this year, and they have reportedly instructed their aides to have a line-by-line spending plan ready by December 8th. TSCL is hopeful that a compromise can be reached before the looming deadline, since failing to do so would likely have a negative effect on Social Security and Medicare beneficiaries. In the coming weeks, we will continue to keep a close eye on the evolving discussions, and we will post updates here in the Legislative News section of our website. .Benefit Bulletin: February 2014 Before Obamacare & 8220;Glitch,& 8221; There Was The Notch Glitch .Both my wife & I are Notch Babies, and should have had higher Social Security benefits than we got. Instead of Congress fighting amongst themselves, we would be better served if they would pass a bill to catch up on our money. Are they waiting for us to die? I am 91, and my wife is 8It's a struggle to live on our benefits. .The Notch Fairness Act, legislation that would pay Notch Babies born from 1917 through 1926 a choice of ,000 in four annual installments of ,250 or an improved monthly benefit, was recently reintroduced in both the House and the Senate. Members of Congress have not forgotten about you and Notch reform may be closer than anybody thinks. .If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. .In her opening statement, Chairman Susan Collins (ME), said: "Deciding at what age to begin claiming Social Security retirement benefits is the single most important financial decision that many Americans will ever make. Few, however, understand that making the wrong choice can end up costing them tens of thousands of dollars, or more, during their retirement." Retirees who qualify for Social Security benefits are entitled to begin collecting at 62, but for each delayed year, benefits grow by 8 percent until they reach their maximum amount at age 70. According to Chairman Collins, deciding when to file for benefits "could make the difference between a secure retirement and living in poverty." copay for Tier 1 generics, and the monthly premium is just .50 in the zip code used in this search. The most expensive plan charges a co-pay of .19, and the plan has a monthly premium of .30 — a difference of ,055.88 for the entire year counting premiums! .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 Social Security Fairness Act, if signed into law, would amend the Social Security Act by repealing the government pension offset (GPO) and the windfall elimination provision (WEP). These two provisions unfairly reduce the earned Social Security benefits of millions of teachers, firefighters, peace officers, and other state or local government employees each year. TSCL believes that Congress should repeal the GPO and the WEP so that dedicated public servants receive the retirement security they deserve. .Both retirees and the disabled spend a very significant portion of their incomes on healthcare costs. For many, health insurance premiums are the most significant expense that they incur every month. That includes what the government automatically deducts for Medicare Part B, and what individuals shell out for a Medicare Advantage plan or Medigap policy, and Part D drug plan. According to a policy brief from the Kaiser Family Foundation, premiums account for the largest share of Medicare beneficiaries' out-of-pocket health spending. Four-in-ten Medicare beneficiaries spend more than 10 percent of their income on premiums alone. To get a better idea of what the government does track, here's a list from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The BLS has classified all expenditure items into more than 200 categories, arranged into eight major groups. Major groups and examples of categories in each include: .First, one new cosponsor – Representative Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-8) – signed on to the CPI-E Act (H.R. 1251), bringing the total up to fifty-three. If adopted, H.R. 1251 would make the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) more adequate by basing it on the spending patterns of older Americans – not the spending patterns of young, urban workers. .As Congress returns to work, it begins another debate over the Social Security payroll tax – and with it, a debate over funding for Social Security. Many Americans are asking how an extension of the payroll tax cut would affect the finances of the Social Security Trust Fund. That's an important question. Keeping Social Security financially strong is essential for protecting current beneficiaries – and for ensuring that Social Security's guarantee will be there for our children and grandchildren as well. ."Public health officials were quick to tout J&J's data as a strong result, particularly given that regulators initially said a vaccine would only have to be 50% effective to be authorized. A vaccine that is 66% effective is an incredibly powerful tool in fighting respiratory viruses, they stressed. ‘We would be celebrating a seasonal influenza vaccine with 60% efficacy,' Jay Butler, the deputy director for infectious diseases at the CDC, told reporters. .A deductible is the amount of money you must pay before your coverage starts. Many Medicare supplements (Medigap policies), Medicare Advantage plans, and drug plans cover Medicare's deductible as part of the coverage you purchase. Medigap polices "B" through "J" pay the Part A dedictible, and Plans "C", "F" and "J" also cover the Part B deductible. Medicare Advantage Plans and prescription drug plans may or may not have a yearly deductible depending on the type of plan you choose. There are also federal and state government programs for low-income seniors that provide assistance for this cost.