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Posts Tagged 'medicare'

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Paul Ryan Peddles Dangerous Fictions on "60 Minutes"

House Speaker Paul Ryan perpetuated dangerous falsehoods about Medicare on CBS “60 Minutes” Sunday night.  In an interview with correspondent Scott Pelley, Ryan hauled out the myth that “Medicare goes bankrupt in about 10 years.”  He continued, “The trust fund runs out of money.  So we have to make sure that we shore this program up.”  Really? 

To Ryan, “shoring up” Medicare means privatizing it, creating what we at the National Committee call “coupon care.”  Seniors would have to fend for themselves in the private insurance market with government-provided vouchers that wouldn’t fully cover their premiums or out-of-pocket costs.  Traditional Medicare would be left to wither and die.

Ryan’s plan is based on a fake crisis.  Contrary to the Speaker’s claims on “60 Minutes,” Medicare does not go bankrupt in 10 years.  It’s true that – without increasing payroll taxes – the Medicare Hospital Trust fund (which finances Medicare Part A) will become depleted in 2028.  However, as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) points out, “incoming payroll taxes and other revenue will still cover 87% of Medicare hospital insurance costs.”  That’s a far cry from bankruptcy, Mr. Ryan.

Any shortfalls, CBPP notes, could be covered by “raising revenues, slowing the growth in costs, or most likely both,” without wrecking traditional Medicare - options that Ryan doesn’t seem inclined to consider.

The other fiction that Ryan perpetrates in his “60 Minutes” appearance is that his Medicare “reforms” wouldn’t “change the benefit” for anybody who is in or near retirement – only Gen X’ers (like Ryan himself) and subsequent generations. This is simply untrue.  Our own analysis at NCPSSM indicates that privatizing Medicare could adversely impact anyone 55 and older (including people currently enrolled in traditional Medicare) because of potentially higher premiums, benefit cuts, and higher out-of-pockets.  Neither seniors nor their children and grandchildren should believe Ryan’s false assurances.  There is simply too much at stake.

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Paul Ryan Peddles Dangerous Fictions on "60 Minutes"

House Speaker Paul Ryan perpetuated dangerous falsehoods about Medicare on CBS “60 Minutes” Sunday night.  In an interview with correspondent Scott Pelley, Ryan hauled out the myth that “Medicare goes bankrupt in about 10 years.”  He continued, “The trust fund runs out of money.  So we have to make sure that we shore this program up.”  Really? 

To Ryan, “shoring up” Medicare means privatizing it, creating what we at the National Committee call “coupon care.”  Seniors would have to fend for themselves in the private insurance market with government-provided vouchers that wouldn’t fully cover their premiums or out-of-pocket costs.  Traditional Medicare would be left to wither and die.

Ryan’s plan is based on a fake crisis.  Contrary to the Speaker’s claims on “60 Minutes,” Medicare does not go bankrupt in 10 years.  It’s true that – without increasing payroll taxes – the Medicare Hospital Trust fund (which finances Medicare Part A) will become depleted in 2028.  However, as the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) points out, “incoming payroll taxes and other revenue will still cover 87% of Medicare hospital insurance costs.”  That’s a far cry from bankruptcy, Mr. Ryan.

Any shortfalls, CBPP notes, could be covered by “raising revenues, slowing the growth in costs, or most likely both,” without wrecking traditional Medicare - options that Ryan doesn’t seem inclined to consider.

The other fiction that Ryan perpetrates in his “60 Minutes” appearance is that his Medicare “reforms” wouldn’t “change the benefit” for anybody who is in or near retirement – only Gen X’ers (like Ryan himself) and subsequent generations. This is simply untrue.  Our own analysis at NCPSSM indicates that privatizing Medicare could adversely impact anyone 55 and older (including people currently enrolled in traditional Medicare) because of potentially higher premiums, benefit cuts, and higher out-of-pockets.  Neither seniors nor their children and grandchildren should believe Ryan’s false assurances.  There is simply too much at stake.

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Medicare and End-of-Life Care

The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) and the Kaiser Family Foundation examined Medicare’s costs for end-of-life care and created this interesting infographic.  Some of the results might surprise you:

  • Of 2.6 million total deaths in the United States in 2014, 2.1 million were among Medicare beneficiaries.
  • The share of total Medicare spending for people at the end of life decreased from 18.6% to 13.5% between 2000 and 2014.
  • Medicare spending for people at the end of life also decreased with age.
  • Surveys show that more than 7 in 10 people aged 65 years and older have not discussed end-of-life care with a physician and that 4 in 10 have not documented their end-of-life care wishes.

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Giving Thanks for Medicare

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Medicare Inertia Costs Seniors Millions Each Year

It’s Open Enrollment season...have you looked at your Medicare Part D and Advantage plans to ensure they still work for you?

Each year, both Medicare Advantage and Part D plans make changes to their benefits, cost-sharing, provider networks and monthly premiums. That means the plan that best served you in 2016 may not be the best plan for you next year.

US News reports:

“According to a recent analysis by the Kaiser Family Foundation, roughly 8 in 10 people enrolled in a Part D or Medicare Advantage plan stick with the same policy from one year to the next. That may be the path of least resistance, but it's probably not the cheapest. Last year, eHealthMedicare.com found that people willing to switch policies to one that offered better coverage for their particular drug regimen saved roughly $600 on prescription drug costs when they switched Part D plans. Savings jumped to more than $1,000 for those who changed their Medicare Advantage plans.”

We certainly understand why so many beneficiaries choose inertia rather than the tedious and often challenging task of comparing the various private insurance plans offered in Medicare Advantage and Part D. However, given that Americans 65 and older spend 12% (and more as they age) of their income on health care, it’s especially important that seniors take the time to ensure last year’s plans still meet their needs. 

Open enrollment continues through Dec. 7.  You’ve got a some time left so please take a look at your plans. 

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