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May 2014
Schlein
Washington Watch

Tracking Medicare: Fixes, Changes, Costs and More

As members came back to the floor when the House came into session, they discovered that the bill had already passed. No one voted yes or no, but almost everyone was surprised. The maneuvering came after a long delay amid Republican opposition that threatened to kill the bill [to fix the Medicare-fee formula].

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Government officials acted because the Medicare Advantage terminations, only a few weeks before Medicare’s Dec. 7 enrollment deadline, may not have given seniors enough time to find new doctors or to choose a different plan or even rejoin traditional Medicare, which does not restrict beneficiaries to a limited network of providers.

April 2014
Schlein
Washington Watch

Proposed Medicare Part D Changes Incite Cheers, Jeers

Since it was implemented in 2006, it has been considered a tremendous success story by Republicans and Democrats alike, helping all 52 million elderly and disabled beneficiaries get access to the Medicare drug benefit through private plans approved by the federal government. Over 10 years, its costs of $346 billion have been 45 percent lower than initially projected and 95  percent of Part D beneficiaries say they are satisfied with the program  an astonishing number when looked at in the context of the controversy over the Affordable Care Act.

March 2014
Schlein
Washington Watch

Sen. Ron Wyden: Seniors Now Have a Long-time Advocate Steering Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security Issues

Wyden has been a senior advocate from before he came to Congress. He was the co-founder and then directed the Oregon chapter of the Grey Panthers, an advocacy group for seniors in the mid-1970s, and served as the director of the Oregon Legal Services Center for the Elderly, a non-profit law service.

February 2014
Ambord
Dollar Sense

10 Worst States for Retirement

Bankrate.com rated the 10 states retirees might want to avoid.  The ratings were based mostly on factors important to seniors, like temperature, crime rate, cost of living, and the tax bite.

Schlein
Washington Watch

This is Your Medicare on Drugs: Fraud and Abuse Rampant in Part D Drug Program. Will Proposed New Rules Bring Much-needed Reform?

The data analysis also showed widespread prescribing of a muscle-relaxant drug called carisoprodol, also known as Soma, which was pulled from the European market in 2007. In 2010 alone, health-care professionals wrote more than 500,000 prescriptions for the drug to patients 65 and older. This drug is on the American Geriatrics Society’s list of drugs seniors should avoid.

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For decades, Medicare has given much higher priority to making medications easily accessible to seniors and the disabled than to weeding out dangerous providers. Under the new rules – and for the first time – the agency would have the authority to kick out physicians and other providers who engage in abusive prescribing. It could also take this action if providers’ licenses have been suspended or revoked by state regulators or if they are restricted from prescribing painkillers and other controlled substances.

January 2014
Schlein
Washington Watch

Desperately Seeking Answers to Medicare Spending and Scams

Everyone seems to be making money from Medicare for services provided to seniors after their hospital stay. But some of these providers earned big profits from Medicare through what KHN described as “a hodgepodge of payment methods that health experts say encourages unnecessary and disjointed care, wastes taxpayer money and makes fraud easier.”

December 2013
Schlein
Washington Watch

The Budget Axe Hovers – With Senior Issues Front and Center on the Chopping Block

One political reality must be understood. Some entitlement reforms — such as higher Medicare premiums for upper-income recipients — can be cast as either spending cuts or revenue increases, depending on your partisan needs. So how things are resolved can depend on how you view things.

November 2013
Schlein
Washington Watch

The State of Senior Finances: Often Bleak, Trending Toward Dismal with a Few Rays of Hope

Future Medicare recipients won’t be much better off financially than current beneficiaries are now, a new analysis from the Kaiser Family Foundation suggests. The current disparities that now exist between white, black Hispanic beneficiaries on income, savings and home equity will all continue to persist, the study found.

October 2013
Schlein
Washington Watch

Seniors and Obamacare – What You Need to Know

Let’s be very clear about something that will confuse many of us. If you are a senior and you want to sign up for an exchange plan, you actually can. Nothing in the health care law prevents Medicare beneficiaries from signing up for exchange plans. But you will not qualify for premium tax credits for the exchange plans.

Early retirees are potentially the big winners under the Affordable Care Act...For those with low incomes, subsidies are available to help pay premiums. While seniors could pay up to three times as much as younger people buying coverage, because rates can take account of age, the exchanges could allow them to buy a policy for much less than they would pay today – especially if they have expensive medical conditions.

Trussell
Aid for Age

Social Security Fraud Ongoing and Growing

Some geographic areas have higher concentrations of identity thieves. The most popular states for these crooks were reported to be Alabama, the Carolinas, Delaware, Georgia, Mississippi, and Texas. “There appears to be a ‘belt of fraud’ that runs through the rural Southeast, extending from Virginia to Mississippi, with significant activity in the Carolinas, Georgia, Florida and Alabama,” the report said.

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