June 2013 Silobreaker
Tax Plan Moves to Conference Committee .In June, the Medicare trustees estimated that Part B premiums will rise only .50 in 2019, from 4 to 5.50. However, according to a recent survey conducted by The Senior Citizens League, roughly 25 percent of all Medicare beneficiaries are currently paying less than 4 per month due to a special "hold harmless" provision of law. Their Part B premium hikes will be much larger than .50, offsetting a larger portion of the 2019 COLA. .First, two new cosponsors – Representative Paul Gosar (AZ-4) and Representative John Larson (CT-1) – signed on to the Audiology Patient Choice Act (H.R. 2276), bringing the total up to thirty-two. If adopted, H.R. 2276 would improve Medicare coverage for hearing services that are performed by licensed audiologists. Under current law, audiologists are not recognized as providers of health-related hearing services, and the Medicare program will only reimburse them for their services when patients are referred by physicians or nurse practitioners. … Continued
Congress Still Working To Avoid Government Shutdown
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. .Watch your mail for information from your current Medicare supplemental or Medicare Advantage, and drug plan insurers. Your insurers will send you notification of changes in coverage, such as premiums, deductible, and co-insurance or co-payment costs for 200Carefully review these documents and compare them with your costs in 200File these documents where you can easily refer to them because you will need to use them for comparison when comparing other insurance options. .This tax hike will disproportionally hit America's oldest and most vulnerable populations. Seniors make up more than half of those claiming the medical expense deduction. … Continued
First, one new cosponsor – Representative Ruben Gallego (AZ-7) – signed on to the Competitive DRUGS Act (H.R. 4117), bringing the total up to thirty-seven. If adopted, this bill would prohibit brand name pharmaceutical companies from paying generic drug companies to delay the introduction of their products to the market. Banning these anti-competitive "pay for delay" deals would lead to lower prescription drug prices for older Americans and other consumers. .However, MA insurers have already begun taking steps to reduce their costs in order to account for the cuts from CMS. As was noted in last week's legislative update, UnitedHealth – one of the largest MA plan providers – has dropped thousands of doctors from its networks, leaving many seniors doctor-less. It expects its physician network to be 85 percent of its pre-Obamacare size by the end of this year. TSCL is concerned that additional cuts to MA in 2015 will harm beneficiaries in other ways, by driving up premiums and reducing benefits. .TSCL supports several bills in the House that would strengthen your Social Security benefits by indexing the COLA using the CPI-E. Visit us at www.SeniorsLeague to learn the latest on this legislation and what you can do to help move this legislation in Congress! .Transportation (new vehicles, airline fares, gasoline, motor vehicle insurance) .TSCL's Three Legislative Wins For Disabled And Older Americans .Since 2010, seniors have failed to receive a COLA increase three times. When a COLA increase did occur, it has never met seniors' needs. In 2016, the increase was a meager 0.3% and it was only 2% in 2017. .If signed into law, H.R. 973 would repeal the Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) and the Government Pension Offset (GPO) – two federal provisions that unfairly reduce the earned Social Security benefits of millions of teachers, firefighters, peace officers, and other state or local government employees each year. .The Board of Trustees for Social Security and Medicare recently released a bombshell of a report that shows this essential health safety net is coming apart at the seams. The report estimates the Medicare trust fund will run dry in 2024, five years earlier than last year's estimate, and went on to explain, "The fund is not adequately financed over the next ten years." In an alternate estimate also released, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services' Chief Actuary Rick Foster painted an even more dire picture, reporting that Medicare's unfunded obligations could be significantly higher, and long-term costs could dramatically increase from the numbers provided in the Board of Trustee's report. .When asked whether the waiting periods for disability and Medicare benefits should be eliminated, 67% of TSCL's poll participants support eliminating the waiting periods for both Social Security and Medicare. Only 18% supported keeping both waiting periods, 9% supported eliminating the 2-year wait for Medicare alone, and 5% supported eliminating the 5-month wait for Social Security alone.