Medicare Accepting Applications From Same-Sex Spouses

Spouses in same-sex marriages can now apply for Medicare benefits. The Social Security Administration, which is in charge of determining eligibility for Medicare, has begun working on requests for Part A and Part B coverage by spouses in same-sex marriages as well as requests for special enrollment and reductions in late-enrollment penalties. The Supreme Court’s ruling last year in United States v. Windsor invalidated the Defense of Marriage Act, which had prevented Medicare from allowing benefits for same-sex couples. >> Sign …

Older Voters Split in Terms of Party ID

While a new Gallup Poll finds that voters 65 and older have moved from “a reliably Democratic to a reliably Republican group” over the past two decades, voters in the next-oldest age bracket – 50 to 64 – haven’t followed suit and still show an outright preference for the Democratic Party. In analyzing its own survey results from 2013, 2003 and 1993, Gallup concludes that the shifts in party preferences are attributable in part to attitudinal changes that come into …

Answers About the Health Care Law Deadline

Time is almost up. March 31 is the last day this year for most people to sign up for health coverage made available by the Affordable Care Act. If you have started the process and encountered problems, you have until April 15 to request an extension. “Remember, if you don’t have health insurance you may have to pay a penalty, and if you do get sick, you won’t be turned away from an emergency room but you will leave with a …

The Cost of Not Expanding Medicaid

States have divided almost evenly on whether to expand Medicaid to millions more low-income Americans, many of them uninsured. Many Republican governors or state legislatures have rejected expansion, saying that although the federal government will pick up most of the tab now, states could be left on the hook in the future. Sign up for the AARP Health Newsletter And although expansion aims for low-income people, “you’re expanding coverage for graduate students and Starbucks baristas,” says Edmund Haislmaier, senior research fellow at the Heritage …

Oldest Member of Congress Faces Runoff Election

Rep. Ralph Hall (R-Texas), the oldest member of Congress, faces a primary runoff after failing to lock up his party’s nomination March 4. Hall, a World War II Navy pilot who came to Congress in 1981 and will turn 91 in May, has said this will be his last race to represent Texas’ 4th Congressional District. But former U.S. Attorney John Ratcliffe, who is 48, said he wasn’t going to wait to run because Hall had made that claim in the …

Stop Selling Smokes, Senators Tell Drugstores

Pharmacies should follow the example of CVS Caremark and kick the habit of selling tobacco products, a group of Democratic senators said Feb. 10 in letters to major chain drugstores. The letter from Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, chairman of the Senate health committee, and seven colleagues ratchets up the pressure on Walgreens, Rite Aid and the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) to voluntarily stop selling cigarettes. CVS made the move already, saying it would forgo the profits because …