• Category Legislative News

    It makes no sense for the Social Security Administration to allow Social Security numbers older than 112 to remain active indefinitely, without investigating the status of the beneficiary. The oldest verified lifespan of any individual to have ever lived is 124. .Changes in U.S. immigration polices impact the finances of Social Security and Medicare. Policies that expand legal immigration would result in new payroll tax revenues from immigrant workers flowing into Social Security and Medicare, strengthening program finances. On the other hand, policies that provide new work authorization to immigrants who are already working in this country illegally would provide new access to Social Security and Medicare benefits that could be based, at least in part, on earnings worked under invalid or fraudulent Social Security numbers. .What do you think? Should health and drug plans be responsible for removing illegals from Medicare rolls? Take a poll on the TSCL homepage today! … Continued

  • Category Issues Medicare Part B Page 2

    These trends are likely to continue a rapid climb in years to come. The first jump in the ESF coincided with the big increase in illegal immigration of 1970's. When Congress overhauled immigration laws in 1986, amnesty was offered to immigrants who could prove they were longtime, law-abiding residents. About 3.1 million were legalized, twice as many as the government expected. Because the law had no provisions for any new workers to enter, illegal immigration continued.(8) .Last week the U.S. House of Representatives announced it will not implement the President's directive for employees of the House, joining major companies in rejecting the option. .It accelerated the closing of the "doughnut hole." Under prior law, the Medicare Part D coverage gap or "doughnut hole" was set to close in 2020. The Bipartisan Budget Act accelerated the closing of the gap so that it will occur one year earlier, in 201Instead of paying a coinsurance rate of 30% in the "doughnut hole," beneficiaries will pay 25%. And instead of brand-name drug manufacturers providing 50% discounts in the doughnut hole, they will begin providing 70% discounts. This means that more than one million Medicare Part D beneficiaries will pay less for their prescription drugs next year when they reach the gap in coverage. … Continued

Unlike the experience of the general public who access state or federal health care exchanges to choose coverage, the choices offered to Members of Congress are dramatically different than those from many other parts of the nation. For 2017, Members had 57 plan options in "Gold" plans alone on the DC shop exchange. In many areas of the nation, particularly rural ones, Gold plans aren't even available. Unlike the Silver and Bronze level plans, Gold plans have lower deductibles, and cover 80% of costs with patients paying only 20%. Silver plans, for example, typically come with deductibles ranging from ,500 - ,000, and pay 70% of costs while patients pay the other 30%. And in some areas of the country, people are happy if they have a choice of more than six silver plans. Certain parts of the country have only one. .Background Information: Once Congress returns from the August recess, they will only have until September 30th to raise the debt ceiling and prevent the government from shutting down. In the past, government shutdowns have meant a delay in payments for Social Security benefits, causing unnecessary fiscal hardship for many seniors. Question: What are you doing to ensure the government avoids defaulting on the federal debt? .Budgeting for changes in health as we age is a challenge. What we can do, though, is give you some pointers in estimating your current costs and setting a healthcare cost budget. .With many seniors spending 30 or more years living in retirement, a COLA that keeps up with rising costs is essential protection for making retirement savings last, and for preventing seniors from falling into poverty. Yet over the past five years, Social Security benefits have grown on average about 1.4% per year — less than half the average rate of growth in previous years. Recent projections by the Congressional Budget Office for 2015 suggest another low COLA of 1.6% next year. .What is a surviving beneficiary spouse? .We enthusiastically support H.R. 1811 and H.R. 1716, and we were pleased to see support grow for both bills this week. .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. ."If you want to save money on health and prescription drug plans, it's more important than ever to compare and switch now during the fall Medicare Open Enrollment period which ends December 7th," Cates says. Free, unbiased, one – on – one counseling is available through State Health Insurance Assistance Programs (SHIP), many of which operate through local agencies on aging. .Many on Capitol Hill consider the proposal to be a political document and deemed it "dead on arrival," though Congress could use the proposal as a road map while forming their own fiscal 2013 budget. TSCL will keep a close eye on this debate over the coming months.