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The U.S. – Mexico Totalization Agreement—which was signed by the Social Security Administrations of both the U.S. and Mexico in 2004, and is due to undergo review by the current or future President(s)—continues to pose a threat to Social Security beneficiaries. Because of a loophole, if the President signs the final Executive Totalization Social Security Agreement with Mexico, it could lead to Social Security benefits going to individuals who worked in the U.S. while illegal. .Health Subcommittee Hears from Medicare Providers .Where this leaves the President's policy at this point is not clear, but it is highly unlikely the program will be able to move forward while Trump is still in office. Whether President Biden will withdraw the plan or seek to modify it through negotiations with Canada remains to be seen. … Continued
Benefit Bulletin October 2020
This week, Senate Budget Chair Kent Conrad (ND) released his Fiscal Commission Budget Plan, which would overhaul the tax code and make major changes to both Social Security and Medicare. In addition, TSCL saw support grow for the Social Security Fairness Act. .Between age 55 and 64, it's as if our body's warranty expires and everything just crashes. By the time we turn 65 and eligible for Medicare, chances are we may have a chronic health condition that requires regular check-ups. Often, it's insidiously hard to tell whether a problem really is serious or whether it's just a "natural part of growing older," which in any case feels just as crummy. .On Wednesday, Congressmen Elijah Cummings (MD-7) and Peter Welch (VT) met with President Donald Trump to discuss the state of the prescription drug industry. At the meeting, they requested President Trump's support for TSCL-backed legislation called the Medicare Prescription Drug Price Negotiation Act (H.R. 242, S. 41), which would require the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices on behalf of Medicare Part D beneficiaries. Currently, Medicare is prohibited from doing so despite the fact that other federal health programs are required to. … Continued
Mr. Kluck and The Senior Citizens League's legislative team met with several congressional offices — including the offices of House Veterans' Affairs Committee Ranking Member Phil Roe (TN-1) and House Ways and Means Social Security Subcommittee Chairman John Larson (CT-1) — to discuss goals and strategies for the 116th Congress, which officially began on January 3rd, 2019. .What is a surviving beneficiary spouse? .The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has estimated that it improperly paid .1 billion to Medicare Advantage plans in 2013 alone. Yet the plans are rarely forced to repay the money they have overcharged, or face closer government scrutiny after the audits, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO). The GAO report said that CMS has failed to target health plans with "known improper payment risk", allowing the worst abusers to avoid scrutiny. .The fact is no one can know ahead of time what healthcare will be needed in the future, let alone the actual costs of the services that providers charge. Doctors frequently refer patients to expensive specialists, and order endless expensive tests without spending adequate time to explain why the tests are necessary, how much they cost, or the chances of improving treatments through their use. ."If the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services and Congress take no action to lower the Part B premium, most of those who were protected by "hold harmless" will need a hefty COLA in order to raise their benefit just to cover the cost of Medicare Part B premiums in 2018," Johnson says. .Passage of legislation in Congress is more complicated than most people realize. The Constitution allows each chamber of Congress to set its own rules for getting it done. .Although immigration law forbids work without authorization, immigrants do find jobs and employers report their earnings to SSA. Currently there are no official published data on the amount of money paid into the Social Security system by aliens whether legal or illegal.(5) Social Security's Chief Actuary, Stephen C. Goss, however, has been quoted in the news media as saying that about three quarters of "other–than–legal" immigrants pay payroll taxes.(6) .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. .The TSCL survey found that, to improve Medicare's finances, seniors strongly support ramping up anti-fraud efforts, and better integration of care to reduce duplications of tests, services, and expensive imaging. What do you think? Take a poll. Visit TSCL's website at .