Obama Budget Proposal Targets Medicare Savings

As expected, President Obama’s budget proposal abandoned a call to change the way annual increases in Social Security benefits are calculated and continued a call for Medicare savings. Announced March 4, his plan, which goes next to Congress, would hit some Medicare providers, drug companies and higher-income Medicare beneficiaries as part of $402 billion in estimated health care savings over the next decade. Among the proposed changes for beneficiaries: Charge higher premiums for Parts B and D for higher-income people …

Medicare Part D Generates Billions in Taxpayer Savings

Medicare‘s prescription drug benefit saves taxpayers billions of dollars by dramatically reducing hospital admissions, a new study shows. Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Illinois at Chicago estimated the total savings at $1.5 billion a year – about 2.2 percent of the total $67.7 billion cost of Medicare Part D in 2011. “Medicare Part D requires a substantial investment from the federal government, and the million-dollar question has been, ‘Does this investment …

Bill Would Cover More Medicare Patients for Skilled Nursing Care

A congressman is expressing confidence that a bill he sponsored – to fix a problem faced by many Medicare patients who are left without coverage for skilled nursing care – will pass this year. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-Conn., who introduced the bill with Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, told reporters in a conference call that the legislation has picked up 137 cosponsors. “This is not happening in a vacuum,” Courtney said, according to the Connecticut Mirror. “It’s happening because there is …

Congress Moves to Overhaul Medicare Doctor Payments

By Mary Agnes Carey, Kaiser Health News Staff Writer The bipartisan leadership of three Senate and House committees introduced legislation Feb. 6 to overhaul the way Medicare pays physicians. The package, which does not specify how it would be paid for, would repeal the current system, which sets Medicare physician payment rates through a 1997 formula based on economic growth and known as the “sustainable growth rate” (SGR).  Physicians would receive a 0.5 percent increase for each of the next five years …

6 Things to Watch in Congress

Members of Congress are back in Washington with an agenda full of items important to older Americans. Here’s a rundown: Debt ceiling and federal budget. Two deadlines loom here. The federal government will run out of borrowing authority if Congress doesn’t raise the debt ceiling by Feb. 7. Although Capitol Hill lawmakers negotiated a budget deal in December that set overall spending, they must pass a bill with more specifics by Jan. 15. Each time budget deadlines hit, some lawmakers …

Has Washington Finally Woken Up to the Real Meaning of Social Security?

Last week as the Senate worked to pass a bipartisan budget framework that doesn’t cut Social Security or Medicare benefits, a hearing without the same fanfare took place just steps away. In a high-ceiling, wood-paneled committee room, U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) chaired a hearing that might prove the more historical moment of the week. With plenty of empty chairs and a parade of bipartisan senators throughout the two hours the hearing lasted, an expert, ideologically-diverse panel that included AARP President Rob Romasco, spoke without even …