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June 2015
Schlein
Washington Watch

Non-binding Republican Budget Bill Proposes Marked Changes in Medicare Costs and Coverage and Other Senior Safety Net Programs

Also facing cuts in the recently approved GOP plan is Medicaid, which provides assisted-living care for millions of frail elderly people, as well as food stamps and other safety net programs.

May 2015
Schlein
Washington Watch

Medicare ‘Doc Fix’ Finally a Done Deal

What is new and innovative in the agreement is the establishment of a two-track payment system, designed to push doctors toward value-based payments models such as accountable care organizations and bundled payments. Doctors who have at least 25 percent of their Medicare revenue tied to these kinds of payment models in 2019 will be eligible for 5 percent bonuses.
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What is also at stake for doctors is bigger than a simple short-term or long-term fix: without a deal, doctors fear their pay will continue to be reduced or not grow sufficiently. Many doctors have threatened to stop treating Medicare patients altogether. The new payment formula would help doctors get out from under the constant threat of payment cuts while shifting to a new payment system based on quality, value and accountability.

Trussell
Aid for Age

Not Everyone is Betty White

Among 55- to 64-year-olds, women’s rate of labor force participation increased from 41.3 percent in 1980 to 59.4 percent in 2012, and is expected to reach 66.6 percent by 2020. But evidence of discrimination has appeared against women.

April 2015
Schlein
Washington Watch

Medicare Testing, Testing, Testing – For Financial as Well as Healthcare Reforms

Since its inception in 1965, Medicare has paid providers on a fee-for-service basis in which doctors, hospitals and other medical providers are paid for each case or service without regard to how the patient fares. That results in medical folks providing more care and medical services, whether or not they are needed.

March 2015
Schlein
Washington Watch

Critical Health Care Decisions Now in the Hands of the Supremes along with Young Representatives and Some Octogenarians in the Senate

This time the issue is about the authorization for tax subsidies for low and middle income folks. The lawsuit alleges that the government should not be providing subsidies to people who purchase coverage in the 36 states that have opted not to run their own health insurance marketplaces.

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Unlike their young House counterparts, seniors may find some sympathetic voices among the conservative Republicans in the Senate. That’s because six of the incoming Senate Republican chairmen are at least 80 years old already or will have their 80th birthday in the course of this 114th Congress.

February 2015
Schlein
Washington Watch

Generic Drug Prices Soaring Sky-High and No One Is Sure Why – Or What to Do About It

New data released in connection with the hearing found that half of generic medicines went up in price between the summer of 2013 and summer 2014. The data also pointed out that about 10 percent more than doubled in cost in that time with some common medicines rising by over 500 percent.

January 2015
Ambord
Dollar Sense

Veterans End-of-Life Benefits

Eligible veterans may be buried in a state or national VA cemetery. You can see a list of these cemeteries at http://www.cem.va.gov/cem/cems/listcem.asp. Also, although you can choose in advance where you will be buried, you cannot reserve a space in a national cemetery.

Ambord
Dollar Sense

When You’re 64: Initial Enrollment in Medicare is a Critical Time. What You Don’t Know or Don’t Do Can Cost You for the Rest of Your Life

Part B covers outpatient costs, and for most people, requires the recipient to pay a premium. For that reason, some people who have other coverage (like retiree coverage) decline Part B. That may seem like a wise choice, but it is potentially a mistake that will cost you for the rest of your life, so be careful.

Schlein
Washington Watch

Medicare: Rules, Regs, Reversals, Boondoggles and Fraud Fights

These doctors started testing for as many as 40 different drugs, including illegal ones that few seniors ever use, and billing Medicare separately for each substance. The Wall Street Journal found Medicare’s spending on 22 high-tech tests for drugs of abuse hit $445 million in 2012, up 1,423% in five years.

December 2014
Schlein
Washington Watch

Washington Watch Potpourri: Social Security, Medicare and the FDA – Still Waiting, Not Paying, and the Naming Game

The backlog problem is not unique to the SSA. Other government agencies have the same problem. According to the Washington Post, the average case at the Social Security appeals office usually takes 422 days to decide, while an appeal at the VA will take 957 days. At the patent office, an application usually waits more than 800 days for a decision.

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