January 2013 The Human Resources Social Network
Totalization Agreement .This week, Members of Congress returned to their home states and districts for a week-long recess to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday. They are expected to return to Capitol Hill on Monday, November 28th, to resume the lame-duck session. .According to the report, the triggering of hold harmless will continue on an individual basis, particularly when inflation is lower than forecast (about 2.4 percent) or if Medicare Part B premium increases are higher than forecast (5%), or both. The risk for both is high, because over the past 8 years COLAs have averaged just 1.2 percent and since 2000 Medicare Part B premiums have increased on average more than 10 percent per year. According to the report, individuals with the lowest benefits, 0 or less, are the most likely to be affected by hold harmless on an individual basis over the next decade, even in years when a COLA is payable, particularly if Medicare Part B premium increases are higher than expected. … Continued
Medicare Part D
New Medicare enrollees, higher -income beneficiaries, people age 65 and older who have not started Social Security benefits (about 11% of beneficiaries). .Companies requiring mandatory arbitration say it saves money and time for resolving complaints. But older consumers still may wind up with legal fees, and may wind up having to pay a share of the arbitration fees. .Finally, four new cosponsors signed on to the Standardizing Electronic Prior Authorization for Safe Prescribing Act (H.R. 4841), bringing the total up to eighteen cosponsors. The new cosponsors are: Representative Pete Sessions (TX-32), Representative Walter Jones (NC-3), Representative Doris Matsui (CA-6), and Representative Kyrsten Sinema (AZ-9). If adopted, H.R. 4841 would allow for and standardize electronic prior authorization for Medicare Part D beneficiaries. … Continued
Medicare Part B premiums increased to 4 month in 2017 – and the higher costs continue to hit older adults, including a large number of low-income individuals who struggle to make ends meet. For these seniors who live paycheck-to-paycheck on Social Security, our failed system means they're facing impossible choices. A meal or medicine? A raincoat or rent payment? .According to the Associated Press, the AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine, which is being used in Great Britain, does more than prevent people from falling seriously ill — it appears to reduce transmission of the virus and offers strong protection for three months on just a single dose, researchers said last week in an encouraging turn in the campaign to suppress the outbreak. .Congress this week was sort of the entire U.S. in miniature form. The Senate came back to town to conduct business, but not all Senators agreed with that. Most Senators followed the rules for wearing face masks, but not all. Not all committee hearings were attended by all the members. Most Senators were careful about following the protocols that have been recommended by health care professionals, but not all. .With So Much At Stake It's Time to Challenge Elected Lawmakers! .Many of these proposals to improve Social Security benefits for women will, and should, also benefit men who took time out of their working careers to care for someone else. However, because women are more likely to outlive their husbands and take care of children, TSCL believes these proposals can particularly help women who gave so much to others, and deserve protection in return. To learn more about these and other proposals that would strengthen Social Security benefits for mothers and caretakers, visit our website at . .In addition, the AHCA would repeal a tax created by the ACA that serves as a critical funding stream for Medicare's Hospital Insurance Trust Fund. Cutting the tax would accelerate the insolvency of the Medicare Part A Trust Fund, and in a matter of a few years, it would become exhausted. In a Washington Post opinion piece, former Acting Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Andy Slavitt wrote, "That's clearly no accident: The program would wind up right where ‘entitlement hawks' such as House Speaker Paul D Ryan (R-Wis.) want it – in crisis. If this bill became law, the speaker would finally be positioned to change Medicare to a voucher program." .The credit for qualifying children is fully refundable, which means that taxpayers can benefit from the credit even if they don't have earned income or don't owe any income taxes. .It eliminated the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB). This fifteen-member board of unelected officials was created by the Affordable Care Act in 2010 to keep Medicare spending down when it exceeded a certain level. While that level was never surpassed and no members were ever appointed to the board, TSCL felt that it could have threatened access to quality medical care for Medicare beneficiaries since it had the power to cut payments to doctors and limit networks of providers. TSCL has advocated for bipartisan legislation for years that would have eliminated the IPAB, and we were pleased that the Bipartisan Budget Act did just that. .CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf made the report to President Obama's Fiscal Commission which is developing a plan to shrink the national deficit by 2015 — a target that TSCL believes will be extremely difficult to achieve without deep cuts to Social Security and widespread tax increases on middle-income taxpayers.