Social Security Enters the Debt-Ceiling Fray

There’s a lot on the line in the showdown over raising the federal debt ceiling – including, President Barack Obama says, retirement and disability benefits for millions of Americans. The nation’s economic situation could go from bad to worse if Congress fails to increase the government’s borrowing authority by the Oct. 17 deadline, according to Obama. “In a government shutdown, Social Security checks still go out on time; in an economic shutdown – if we don’t raise the debt ceiling …

A Renewal of Subscription Renewal Scams

Like reading home-delivered newspapers and magazines? Pay close attention to invoices that claim to start or renew your subscriptions. In an old scam that has recently been, ahem … renewed, third-party companies are mailing bogus subscription invoices that purport to be “on behalf  of” well-known publishers. Problem is, the firms may not be working with publishers as claimed. Several leading publishers have recently been hit in this scam, which aims to get you to make payments directly to the outside company, not …

More Doctors Accepting New Medicare Patients

It’s getting easier – not more difficult – to find doctors who take Medicare, according to a new study by the Department of Health and Human Services. Doctors have long complained about Medicare’s payment caps and the instability of a reimbursement system that forces cuts each year unless Congress intervenes to prevent them. Nonetheless, the HHS study says that the number of physicians accepting new Medicare patients is actually higher than the number taking new private insurance patients, according to …

How a Secretive Panel of Doctors Helps Set Health Care Costs

A Washington Post story by investigative reporters Peter Whoriskey and Dan Keating has drawn plenty of attention to a little-known committee of doctors that establishes values for each medical procedure, which in turn affects how much Medicare and private insurers pay for them. The American Medical Association committee meets once a year behind closed doors to determine the time and intensity of most of the procedures and services a doctor performs – like colonoscopies (75 minutes of a doctor’s time, …