Benefit Bulletin August 2015
A monthly supply of diabetes drug Lantus Solostar, for example, ranges from a high of 2.00 from the mail - order pharmacy of First Health Part D Value Plus plan to a low of .75 from the network retail pharmacies for SilverScript Choice, a difference of 4.25 per month. .Both House and Senate tax reform bills index the individual tax brackets and the standard deduction to the slowly-growing "chained" Consumer Price Index (CPI). This change will result in tax increases for most individuals over time because they will reach higher tax brackets faster than they would under current law. It also increases the probability that lawmakers will apply the inadequate "chained" CPI as a cost-saving measure to other government indexes that grow with inflation, like the Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA). .The move is a long time coming. Legislation passed in 1996 made illegal immigrants ineligible to receive federal benefits. But according to an audit performed by the Inspector General of the Department of Health and Human Services, more than 29,185 illegal immigrants had improperly received Medicare benefits from 2009 through 201A review of 133,541 claims revealed that Medicare had paid more than .6 million in claims on behalf of 2,575 unlawfully present individuals. … Continued
Private Medicare Plans Too Costly Congress Told Feed
In a statement that was released on Thursday, Mary Johnson – Policy Analyst for The Senior Citizens League – said: "The bottom line is that Medicare Part B premiums rise several times faster than COLAs, and those premiums are now high enough to cause the net Social Security benefits of millions of people to remain flat for years at a time … This would make the fourth year in a row that this particular group has not seen a boost in their net Social Security benefits." .Despite the big drop in costs related to petroleum prices, the overall costs typical of Social Security recipients continue to grow faster than benefits. Since 2000, the COLA has increased benefits just 43 percent while typical senior expenses have jumped 74 percent. Inflation has been at historic lows in recent years and seniors received a COLA of just 1.7 percent this year. .In 2016, when there was no COLA increase, those people protected by "hold harmless" paid the same premium that they did in 2015, 4.90. Part B premiums rose to 1.80 per month. In 2017 with just a 0.3 percent COLA, Medicare Part B premiums were once again adjusted downward so that the increase in an individuals' Part B premium did not reduce their Social Security benefit. Because the amount of their COLA was so it left most people who were held harmless paying a monthly premium of roughly 0 or less. … Continued
The inspector general has recommended that the IRS should require ITIN filers claiming the Additional Child Tax Credits to provide documentation that their dependents meet the qualifications for the credit, including residency. The IRS disputes this, saying that it doesn't have the legal authority to verify and disallow the child tax credits. .For many aged 65 and older, times are already tough. Since 2005, health care costs have risen faster than inflation every year except 200We need to be working to make retirement more secure for the 130,000 seniors living in Southern Arizona who I represent and the millions of others across the country. I'll continue to fight to make that happen. .On Thursday, lawmakers in the House began considering legislation (H.R. 1190) to repeal the IPAB, the unelected 15-member board that was created by the Affordable Care Act (ACA) to manage Medicare's growth. The House Ways and Means Committee advanced the bill with a vote of 31-8 two weeks ago, and earlier this week it was approved by the House Rules Committee. .TSCL is hopeful that lawmakers will successfully repeal and replace the SGR before the looming deadline, since doing so would bring much-needed stability to the Medicare program. We will continue to monitor the negotiations in the coming weeks, and we will post updates here in the Legislative News section of our website. .The CPI-E tends to grow more quickly than the CPI-W in most years, because it more accurately accounts for the percentage of income that retirees spend on healthcare and housing costs. Those two categories tend to increase several times faster than inflation, and tend to take a bigger share of retiree income. The CPI-E tends to give less weight to items like gasoline and consumer electronics which have fallen significantly in recent months and helped drag down the COLA for 2020. .Sen. Sherrod Brown (OH) introduced S. 569 on March 14, 201It has since been referred to the Committee on Finance. .Three Ways Congress Can Pay For Notch Reform .Big Effort to Lower Drug Prices Once Again in Congress .The hold harmless provision in the Social Security Act (§1839[f]) is an important protection that ensures an individual's net Social Security benefit will not decrease from one year to the next because of an increase in the Part B premium.