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May 2019

Poppies Still a Way to Honor Veterans

Poppy sales are based on a simple premise: Honoring the dead by helping the living. Proceeds go to veteran assistance programs, especially for vets who have been maimed and disabled fighting for our country.

Washington Watch

Old Appears to be the New Young on Capitol Hill

More than 20% of the new lawmakers are millennials, making this a particularly fresh-faced freshman class. But many lawmakers are already seniors. As of October 2018, the average age of the 115th Congress was 57.8 years for the House and 61.8 for the Senate ...What's unusual is that the average American is about 20 years younger than their representative in Congress.

April 2019
Washington Watch

Weighing the Differences Between Social Security Policies and Politics

Larson's bill would change benefits, update the cost of living adjustments and fix those long-term funding issues. It would i

Increase benefits for those who have paid into the system almost across the board. It would apply about 25 percent of the money raised to increase benefits, and the rest would cover projected deficits in the Social Security trust over the next 75 years.

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Conservative lawmakers want benefits cut by raising the retirement age and imposing stingier cost of living adjustments. Still another group of conservative Republicans have long advocated privatizing Social Security completely.

March 2019
Washington Watch

Swallowing High Pill Prices Hard to Take, But Determined Legislators and Hopeful Candidates Desperately Seeking Solutions

Everyone understands the urgency of some action – except the pharmaceutical industry. Drug price reform is far more complicated than the rhetoric about it. Getting a handle on the real costs to patients is even more difficult to assess, buried under a complicated web of manufacturer rebates and insurance cost sharing.

February 2019
Washington Watch

Texas, Trump, the Constitution and Seniors – All Still in Play in the ACA Fra

If the Trump administration reverses course and refuses to enforce the ACA because of the Texas ruling, seniors could immediately be on the hook for thousands of dollars in additional drug spending. Millions more Americans would lose Medicaid coverage, which is the largest payer of addiction treatment in the United States.

January 2019
Washington Watch

New Congress: Ambitious Health Care Agenda – But Can They Accomplish Anything?

Serious medical conditions like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, HIV/AIDS and asthma are often the kinds of illnesses that some health insurance companies try to avoid covering. More than 25 percent of Americans under age 65 – about 52 million people – have a pre-existing condition that would have prevented them from buying individual health insurance before the ACA became law in 2010. More than 75 percent of Americans, polls show, favor keeping these protections in place.

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Finding a workable solution to skyrocketing drug prices is where the issue really gets sticky. On this issue and the discussion of Medicare for All – the real purpose of most drug pricing legislation in the new Congress will be to set an agenda for the 2020 presidential elections, more than to actually fix the problem.

June 2018
Washington Watch

Attempting to Lower Drug Prices – What’s Proposed, What’s Realistic?

Direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical advertising boosts drug costs both by directly increasing expenses to drugmakers that they then incorporate into the price of the drug and by increasing consumer demand for medication they may not need.

Washington Watch

Federal Budget Woes and Wins for Seniors

In the course of getting the budget approved, Trump upset liberals, conservatives, Democrats and Republicans and even members of his populist base.

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Congress rebuffed drug companies' appeals to reduce how much they have to pay for some seniors' prescription costs – a rare defeat for the industry after an intense lobbying campaign.

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Under the budget law, benefits targeting those with chronic diseases do not have to be primarily health related, and only have to provide a "reasonable expectation" of improving health.

Washington Watch

Electronic Health Records – Stuck in the 1990s?

Lack of patient health data access often leads to duplicate testing and unnecessary treatments, increasing costs for consumers, doctors, hospitals and health systems. Medicare continues to push forward on its efforts, but those efforts have so far, gone nowhere.

Washington Watch

Rewriting the Rules – Will Seniors Bear the Brunt of Deregulation and Rules Changes?

Under CMS's plan, the states could set minimum requirements, allowing insurers to scale back prescription drug coverage, for example, as long as it ramped up coverage in another category.
That allows them to make plans less appealing to someone they don't want to cover, such as someone with long-term conditions like diabetes or arthritis – in other words, older folks.

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