Notch Bulletin January 2011
Social Security Earnings Repeal Act Introduced in the House .But that's not the case for about 12 million employees with the highest salaries in the country. Unlike the Medicare payroll tax, which applies to all earnings, Social Security payroll taxes apply only to the first 8,400 in earnings. Neither the employees who earn more than 8,400, nor their employers, pay Social Security taxes on earnings in excess of that amount. "That's a problem for Social Security's financing," says Johnson. ."The high cost of prescription drugs forces people to do what we shouldn't have to do, like ordering drugs from Canada," says Susan. "I have a friend who went without one of her prescriptions because she didn't have the money, and she died of a stroke. Our government is not doing what it's supposed to do. It's a constant struggle and my husband hasn't retired yet because of our concern about the costs of his prescription drugs for which he currently gets good coverage from his job." … Continued
H R 3090 Elder Protection And Abuse Prevention Act
Medicare Advantage plans are booming in popularity with retirees, as a low-cost health coverage alternative. In 2016, the plans cover more than 18 million people, but troubling audits indicate that many plans are overbilling the government for many, if not the majority, of the patients treated. Because overcharges drive up Medicare program spending, the higher costs are shifted to all people enrolled in Medicare through rising Part B premiums— even to people who never enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. .The DOJ in late March arrested a man in Southern California who allegedly orchestrated an investment scheme involving a bogus injectable cure for Covid-1A week later, the DOJ filed charges against a man whose treatment allegedly involved a combination of Vitamin C, bee pollen, hydrogen peroxide, and prayer. .White House officials and public health leaders said they don't expect a vaccine to be widely available until March or April, which means wearing masks and other non-pharmaceutical measures will likely be the only option to reduce the spread of the virus until the end of February. … Continued
"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 a letter of endorsement, Art Cooper – Chairman of The Senior Citizens League's Board of Trustees – wrote: "TSCL salutes you for introducing legislation that would make COLAs more accurate, reduce senior poverty by boosting monthly benefits, cut taxes for millions of beneficiaries, and ask wealthier Americans to contribute to the program more fairly. Together, these changes would strengthen Social Security benefits while extending the solvency of the trust funds for decades to come." .First, in the spring, Members of Congress passed legislation to repeal and replace the sustainable growth rate (SGR) – a flawed formula that set payment rates for doctors who treated Medicare patients. Because of the quirks in the law, doctors were faced with double-digit cuts year after year. Some stopped seeing new Medicare patients, and some even stopped participating in Medicare altogether. TSCL advocated for the SGR's repeal for more than a decade, and we were ecstatic to see it replaced once and for all last April. The law took effect immediately and, in the coming years, it will bring increased stability to the Medicare program for both patients and their doctors. .TSCL believes the regulations could be costly to seniors and to Medicare. Alternative therapy and medical approaches are used by millions of Americans. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated, that the U.S. public spent between billion to billion on CAM therapies in 1997, an amount that was more than the U.S. public paid out-of-pocket for all hospitalizations in that year, and an amount that was approximately one-half of that paid by the U.S. public for all out-of-pocket physicians' services. .One of our purposes in visiting with those offices was to find out why they do not support the bill and to see if there is any hope that some compromise to the bill could be reached. The main reason they do not support the Grassley-Wyden bill is because it has a provision that they believe would, in essence, result in government price-setting of drug prices and would be a first step toward a one-payer (meaning government) health care system. Each office mentioned other bills that they might support but there is not one bill that the Republican majority is currently in favor of and that might have a chance to pass. It was also stated that because this is an election year there is a very short timeline for action to be taken. .It's important to compare your prescription drug costs based on the drugs you actually take under Part D and Medicare Advantage plans since that expense for most people is their most significant cost, next to premiums. You can compare Medicare Part D drug plans and Medicare Advantage online at www.Medicare.gov by clicking on the link for "find drug and health plans." You can do a general search based on your zip code, and the drugs you input. .The Senior Citizens League believes it is time to focus on the adequacy of Social Security benefits to meet rising Medicare costs. COLAs have been insufficient to cover the Part B premium in five out of the past ten years — 2010, 2011, 2016, 2017, and 201This is a clear indication that Social Security COLA is not adequate, and not doing the job it was intended to do. . .The annual Medicare Advantage Open Enrollment period starts January 1 –March 3During this time, you will be allowed to switch to another MA plan or return to Medicare and a stand alone plan. However, if you give up your MA plan in favor of returning to original Medicare, that does not necessarily mean you would be able to buy a Medigap supplement. Medicare supplement insurers are not required by law to cover pre-existing conditions, other than during certain periods (when you first sign up for Part B or if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.) .He announced that he would meet with the drug companies to discuss his plan, but top company executives subsequently refused to meet with him. The drug companies did develop their own proposal but it was rejected by the President.