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June 2016
Schlein
Washington Watch

Congressional Health – A Legislative Roundup

Wyden is hoping this legislation would be particularly helpful to seniors in Medicare who often have multiple medications that are costly. The Affordable Care Act already caps out of pocket costs under health insurance plans sold on the law’s marketplaces, but those same protections are not always available under Medicare. Under current law, once beneficiaries reach the $7,500 out of pocket threshold, they must pay 5 percent of any additional drug spending. That can quickly add up.

May 2016
Schlein
Washington Watch

Drug Pricing Options Proposed, Presupposed, Opposed ... While Seniors Still Left Biting the Pill – Or Not

The leading proposal being floated on Capitol Hill would allow the federal government to negotiate lower drug prices for millions of seniors in Medicare. Polling by Kaiser Health Foundation found 83 percent of Americans singled out drug prices as the most pressing health care issue the next president and Congress should address.

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For Medicare beneficiaries, drug plans' increasing use of coinsurance may mean higher out-of-pocket costs, among other things. If a drug costs $200, for example, instead of making a flat $20 copayment, you may owe 20 percent of the cost, or $40.

April 2016
Schlein
Washington Watch

Struggling to Afford the Next Big Health Care Crisis – Chronic and Long-term Care

Also working toward the same goals on the issue of long-term care, three different policy groups have studied the issue and all come to the same conclusion –– that a universal long-term care insurance program may be the best answer.

March 2016
Ambord
Dollar Sense

Are You Smarter Than a Medicare Thief?

Have you seen TV ads offering free tests and free medical equipment such as a free brace, for your neck, back, or knee, syringes, or other items?  If you respond, you may or may not receive what is promised. Even if you are given free tests, there’s no guarantee that your tests will be processed.  It doesn’t matter to thieves because they’ve what they want: your Medicare number.

Ambord
Dollar Sense

Social Security Ain’t What it Was Just a Few Weeks Ago

Overall, the decision when to begin taking Social Security is personal. Starting too early or filing too late could greatly curtail the amount you collect. So don’t leave this critical decision to chance.

Schlein
Washington Watch

What Is an ACO, How Does it Work and What Does it Mean to Me?

The old way of paying doctors fails to discourage overuse of health-care services and critics say it doesn’t hold doctors accountable for whether a patient gets healthier or not. These new payment programs include lump sum payments for treating a patient all the way through a procedure.
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To many, ACOs may sound a lot like health maintenance organizations. The critical difference is that an ACO patient is not required to stay in the network, the way an HMO patient is. In addition, ACOs must meet a long line of quality measures to ensure they are not saving money by stinting on necessary care.

February 2016
Ambord
Dollar Sense

Social Security Strategies Slated for the Dustbin in 2016

File and Suspend is a nice strategy. But again, Congress has put the kibosh on this program going forward. Now, the wife in this example can only receive spousal benefits if her husband — the higher earning spouse — is actually receiving benefits.

Schlein
Washington Watch

Where Do the Presidential Candidates Stand on Social Security and Medicare?

Both Republicans and Democrats count on seniors as reliable voting blocs in their primary nominations contests and seniors can be counted on to turn out for the November election.

January 2016
Schlein
Washington Watch

The Health Care Changes That Mean More Dollars out of Seniors’ Pockets

Another factor has been the historically low growth in the nation’s health care spending, which has meant stability for Medicare beneficiaries. Privately-insured working families have not had the same experience during the Obama years because employers have continued to keep passing on a bigger share of health care costs to their workers.

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Studies have shown that screening only slightly reduces the risk of death from prostate cancer, because most grow so slowly they effectively are harmless. Yet many men diagnosed with prostate cancer undergo surgery and radiation, which can have lifelong side effects.

December 2015
Schlein
Washington Watch

House Speaker Paul Ryan, Social Security and Medicare — Big Changes, Little Tweaks or...?

Unable to reach a “grand bargain” on the budget with President Obama, Boehner pushed through smaller limited changes to Medicare as part of a larger deal on government spending. Ryan is likely to try the same strategy. But he has clearly laid out a larger vision for changing Medicare and Social Security.

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