• Legislative Update Week Ending September 1 2017

    In a press release, Mary Johnson – a policy analyst for TSCL – recently said: "Anyone who cares about his or her health coverage, Medicaid, or Medicare should contact their Members of Congress now." Since many in Congress are undecided on the AHCA, it is not too late for grassroots advocates to make an impact. TSCL encourages its members and supporters to call their representatives in Congress immediately to request their opposition to the AHCA. Contact information can be found HERE. .When there's a COLA as low as 1.3%, a provision of law known as "hold harmless" ensures that an individual's net Social Security benefit will not decrease from December of one year to January of the next, because of an increase in the Part B premium. That's an important protection, but it doesn't go far enough. .Too many doctors are prescribing large quantities of narcotics and addictive drugs that may be finding their way onto the streets, or putting patients at risk of addiction. The doctors, in turn, are accepting kickbacks and other "incentives" while billing Medicare for the cost. The following are just three of the examples from a new report from the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General: … Continued

  • 2014 Best Ways To Save February 2014 2

    That spells trouble for people living on fixed incomes. "When COLAs fall down on the job of protecting benefit buying power, seniors face working longer, digging deeper into retirement savings, or falling into debt and poverty," says Ed Cates, Chairman of TSCL. .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. .As TSCL supporters know, it is a particularly important issue for older people, who rely on medications to manage the medical problems associated with advancing age. However, drug makers remain adamantly opposed to government efforts to curb prices. … Continued

TSCL supports legislation that would provide a more fair and accurate COLA by basing it on a senior index like the Consumer Price Index for the Elderly (CPI-E). If seniors received a COLA based on the CPI-E, TSCL estimates that seniors with average benefits of ,200 per month in 2014 would receive ,753 more over a 30-year retirement. By their final year, their benefit would be ,652 per year more than if the CPI-W were used. .Two new pieces of legislation in addition to H.R.1565 (see above) have been introduced to stop these kinds of scams. .Unless something is done, TSCL calculates there may be no COLA for next year. .The Finance Committee members spent much of Tuesday's hearing debating the primary motivators of rising healthcare costs, especially growing premiums in the individual market. Many on the committee seemed convinced that the ACA is to blame, while others said the Trump Administration is responsible. .To learn more about your Enrollment Periods check your 2016 Medicare & You handbook, call 1-800—MEDICARE ( 7) or visit You can get free unbiased one-on-one counseling to help you sign up for Medicare and select the best way to receive coverage through your State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP). Many of the programs operate through local senior centers or area agencies on aging. .The ongoing problem of extremely low COLAs, and double digit Part B premiums could be eliminated entirely if Congress were to focus instead on ensuring a higher net Social Security benefit. This could be done by enacting a one - time benefit boost or an emergency COLA. Either approach would satisfy the Social Security Act's hold harmless requirement that an individual's net benefit will not decrease from one year to the next as a result of an increase in the Part B premium, as specifically stated in section (§1839[f]). To prevent the triggering of hold harmless it would be very important that an emergency COLA payable in January 2021 is structured as an actual boost to the net benefits of Social Security recipients, rather than simply providing a flat emergency payment by check. .TSCL has received a growing volume of email from seniors who say their new Part D or Medicare Advantage plan isn't all it's cracked up to be. Many of you complain of higher-than-expected costs, and quite a few asked how you could drop your plan. Selecting the right Medicare supplement or Medicare Advantage plan is highly complicated. The system has stymied almost everyone who works with it, Medicare advocates, pharmacists, insurers, and — especially — government employees. How can the average senior be expected to figure it out? .Town Hall Question: Many doctors are threatening to stop seeing Medicare patients if the sustainable growth rate formula is not repealed and replaced. What do you feel should be done about this? .Key Bill Gains Support