Meet our writers

 







News

January 2017
Schlein
Washington Watch

Senior Health Care Issues Loom Large in New Year, New Administration

The 21st Century Cures Act is one of the most significant pieces of legislation passed by this Congress, with bipartisan support – from both the outgoing Democratic White House and GOP leaders in Congress. It makes sweeping policy changes and funding increases for mental health care programs, money to fight the national opioid epidemic and additional money for Alzheimer’s disease research and cancer research. Supporters of the bill called it a “game-changer” that would touch almost every American in some way or another.

December 2016
Schlein
Washington Watch

What Happens When You Just Can’t Get There from Here Because You’re Old?

So Butterfli and other companies and local communities are working with insurance companies to provide transportation solutions to the elderly and now have an added incentive to provide it so they don’t get hit with readmission penalties.

November 2016
Schlein
Washington Watch

Justice, Oh Justice, Where Art Thou for Nursing Home Residents?

Companies love forced arbitration because it overwhelmingly tilts in their favor and often shields them from liability. But in the process, consumers, investors, and in the case of nursing homes, patients and families, are often denied justice because they have no legal recourse when wronged.

* * * * *

But the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), which govern both Medicare and Medicaid and controls more than $1 trillion in funding for the two agencies, recently issued new rules cutting off funding to nursing facilities that require arbitration clauses as a condition of admission.

October 2016
Schlein
Washington Watch

Parsing the Presidential Positions and Politics on Senior Issues

The actual choice facing voters are two candidates with sharply different views of the world. Where they have articulated a clear policy, like on issues involving immigration, ISIS and the economy, the differences are often stark. But little has been spoken about key issues with special importance to seniors.

September 2016
Schlein
Washington Watch

Medicare and Health Care Insurance Snags, Traps, Escalating Costs, And Surprising Bipartisan Potential Solutions

One of the biggest criticisms of high-deductible plans is that instead of pushing people to be careful, cost‑conscious health care consumers, these plans force people to avoid care altogether. Instead, this [proposed legislation] inches toward the idea of a value‑based policy.

* * * * *

Only days after Judy Hanttula came home from the hospital after surgery last November, her doctor’s office called with bad news. Records showed that instead of traditional Medicare, she had a private Medicare Advantage plan. The shock was that her doctor and hospital were not in its network. That meant that neither the plan nor Medicare would cover her medical costs. Her “seamless conversion” was going to cost her $16,622.

August 2016
Schlein
Washington Watch

Telemedicine: What Is It, Does It Work, and Why Doesn’t Medicare Pay for It?

Those using virtual visits with a physician around the clock are finding they can charge an average cost of less than $50 per visit. Some have found they can charge as little as $15 for an online visit. By contrast, it takes, on average, 20 days to secure a 20-minute appointment with a physician that, with travel and waiting, can consume two hours of an individual’s time, the doctors found.

July 2016
Schlein
Washington Watch

Medicare, Money, Mistakes – Skewed Reporting, Payment Fraud, Cover-ups Still Rampant

What Medicare has never done is impose stiff financial penalties even as evidence built up that billing errors were deeply rooted and wasting tax dollars at an alarming clip. GAO found in its new report that Medicare has still not targeted the worst abusers.

* * *

Common “medical errors” may be the third leading cause of death in the U.S., after heart disease and cancer, claiming 251,000 lives every year – more than respiratory disease, accidents, stroke and Alzheimer’s.

June 2016
Schlein
Washington Watch

Congressional Health – A Legislative Roundup

Wyden is hoping this legislation would be particularly helpful to seniors in Medicare who often have multiple medications that are costly. The Affordable Care Act already caps out of pocket costs under health insurance plans sold on the law’s marketplaces, but those same protections are not always available under Medicare. Under current law, once beneficiaries reach the $7,500 out of pocket threshold, they must pay 5 percent of any additional drug spending. That can quickly add up.

May 2016
Schlein
Washington Watch

Drug Pricing Options Proposed, Presupposed, Opposed ... While Seniors Still Left Biting the Pill – Or Not

The leading proposal being floated on Capitol Hill would allow the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices for millions of seniors in Medicare. Polling by Kaiser Health Foundation found 83 percent of Americans singled out drug prices as the most pressing health care issue the next president and Congress should address.

* * *

For Medicare beneficiaries, drug plans' increasing use of coinsurance may mean higher out-of-pocket costs, among other things. If a drug costs $200, for example, instead of making a flat $20 copayment, you may owe 20 percent of the cost, or $40.

April 2016
Schlein
Washington Watch

Struggling to Afford the Next Big Health Care Crisis – Chronic and Long-term Care

Also working toward the same goals on the issue of long-term care, three different policy groups have studied the issue and all come to the same conclusion –– that a universal long-term care insurance program may be the best answer.

Page 2 of 8