First, the most controversial proposal: Raise the minimum retirement age from 62 to 64. Fuerst told Congress if this is adopted, it be phased in slowly to give society a chance to adapt and prepare for a delayed retirement. He would even suggest doing it over a period of decades, however with the “depletion” date in two decades, 2033, this might be too little too late.
This, to Coburn, is the core truth, and core problem, of today’s medical system: The change to living with chronic illness has changed the problem and the health care system simply hasn’t kept up. So Coburn and HQP are attempting to adjust to changing medical needs for seniors with multiple chronic conditions.
Remembering the red-state, blue-state election maps, tens of millions of poor or disabled people including millions of seniors, currently living on the eastern seaboard or in parts of the Midwest or along the Pacific coast will be in line to obtain Medicaid health care coverage for the first time next year. But millions more – living primarily in the south and southwest and portions of the Midwest – will be denied coverage because of political and budgetary calculations by their state political leaders and lawmakers.
The figures on boomer retirement represent a big change since 2007 and 2008 when only 19 percent of the oldest boomers were retired as well as a leap up from the 45 percent retired in 2011.
Beneficiaries who are placed under observation – which is considered outpatient care – cannot qualify for nursing home coverage, even if they are in the hospital for three days. They also face higher out-of-pocket costs, including higher copayments and charges for drugs that are not covered for outpatient stays.
“We value the fact that people come and pick up our garbage every single morning. How do I know that we value them?” asks Elsas “Because we pay these people more than we pay the worker who takes care of our elderly population.
The shortages have hurt the agency’s ability to implement crucial reforms, ensure adequate oversight of hospitals and find ways to stem spiraling medical costs, researchers say. In recent years, Congress has added more programs and complex legislation to the agency’s plate, including overseeing the 2003 prescription drug benefit for seniors, developing a system for grading hospitals and nursing homes and trying to weed out fraud and waste. Many consider administering CMS to be one of the hardest jobs in the entire federal government.
It finds that the American health care system is not a free market and there’s hardly anything logical about how hospitals charge for procedures. Hospital billing is “a crapshoot,” the article says, “People fare differently according to circumstances they can neither control nor predict.”
Health care prices are high in America, the article concludes, because the federal government doesn’t stop them from being high, like other countries do. What sets the American system apart from other countries is rate setting. In the U.S., the federal government does not regulate the prices that health care providers can charge. But it does regulate the prices health care providers charge those over 65 and that’s what has helped Medicare control some of its costs.
The romantic notion of moving to a foreign country sometimes conflicts with tax issues, political instability, and public services. Most people could give up Heinz ketchup and Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. But is electricity, water, telephone and Internet service adequate?
But whether young or old, you pay something near the equivalent of a “sin” tax on your cell phone.
Nonetheless, some progress is being made in efforts to help seniors cope with getting older as scores of new options flourish for seniors. Right now, about 10 million seniors currently rely on others for daily care – things like help getting dressed, preparing meals or taking medication. But those numbers are going to skyrocket as more of the nation’s 78 million baby boomers get older. Nearly 7 in 10 people will need some form of long-term care after turning 65.
Increased Medicaid payments, which started January 1, will mean that doctors that take Medicaid patients will get a pay raise. Payments in every state were brought up to the same level Medicare pays doctors. Some experts say the Medicare rate is too low, but until now, Medicaid paid even less. A recent Kaiser Family Foundation study noted that while it varies from state to state, primary care physicians see an average 73% pay increase.
Hundreds of volunteers now make “fix-up” house calls on seniors. Assistance can be as simple as retrieving a medicine pill that has fallen from its container and can’t be found, to repairing or even rebuilding a senior’s home.
Monthly payments to Medicare prescription-drug plans and Medicare Advantage plans also would face a two percent reduction, as would doctors and insurers a month later. This would mean cuts to community health centers that would result in them seeing fewer low-income patients. Cuts to the Food and Drug Administration would mean scaling back the number of health inspectors to test food, drug and medical products and it could also affect the evaluation of new drugs.
But if you think the election of President Obama ends the controversy over health care reform, you’d be mistaken. Republican governors may still have the administration over a barrel. Several governors are expected to try and use their leverage to pressure the Obama administration to grant greater flexibility over how they spend their Medicaid dollars.
"The average senior is going to benefit by carefully scrutinizing their situation, because every year the market changes," Avalere President Dan Mendelson told the Associated Press recently. Avalere crunched the numbers based on bid documents that the plans submitted to Medicare. The report found premium increases for all top 10 prescription plans, known as PDPs.
In this election season, what seems to have fallen by the side of the road – besides the rhetorical grandmother off the cliff – are facts.
In this election cycle, facts don’t seem to be relevant. If you can get your point across rhetorically – and then can reinforce it with millions of dollars of ads – what matters is persuading voters even if what you say is just plain wrong, or a slight mistruth.
The differences between the Republican vision of Medicaid and the Democratic vision are stark and are among the sharpest issue distinctions between the two parties in the upcoming fall election campaign.
This will save seniors hundreds of dollars on prescriptions. Last year, 3.6 million Medicare beneficiaries saved more than $2.1 billion on prescription drugs, an average of $604 per person, as a result of the Obamacare requirement that drug companies provide a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs for seniors who fall into the doughnut hole coverage gap.
The Congressional Budget Office estimated in 2009 that re-importation would save the government $19 billion over 10 years. It was considered in 2010 when the Affordable Care Act was approved, but became collateral damage in negotiations with the pharmaceutical industry as a way to get that industry’s buy-in on the Obama health care legislation.
Stopping what could be critical life-saving medication was not what people hoped would happen when patients reached the coverage gap. Medicare and insurance officials hoped seniors would be cost-effective and would look for low-cost alternative options instead of not taking their medicines. But that’s not the case, according to the study. Instead, seniors just stopped taking their essential medicines.
The numbers vary sharply by state. Texas and Ohio, for example, have helped thousands of seniors and disabled people find homes in their communities. Others like North Carolina, Missouri and Kentucky, have moved fewer than 500 each. In California, only 827 people have made the jump since 2008, when the state was awarded $41 million during that time.
As of December, 1.31 million seniors 75 and older were working. That’s 25 percent more than in 2005. Not all elderly are working just to stay afloat. Many continue to work because it makes them feel worthwhile; or they have worked so long, it just seems the natural thing to do.
While this issue should get some bipartisan support, since Alzheimer’s doesn’t discriminate between Democrats and Republicans, the big fight will be over where the money comes to pay for increased research dollars in a fiscally-tight economy.
Once again, trustees forecast that Medicare's hospital fund would begin to run out of money beginning in 2024, but many experts place little importance on the trustees' projection since the program's insolvency has been forecast from as little as two years away to as many as 28 years since 1970.
Between 1900 and 2000, life expectancy at birth increased by near 30 years, more than it had increased during the previous 200,000 years of human history. For 65 year olds the mortality rate declined by 55 percent during the 20th century.
Although daily Internet usage is up 7 points from last year, those over age 65, more than younger adults, still say they prefer print.
The new study reports that 59 percent of the first boomers to turn 65 are at least partially retired, 45 percent are completely retired and 14 percent are retired, but are working part-time. Of those still working, 37 percent say they'll retire in the next year and on average plan to do so at least by the time they're 68.
Depending on how you see it, the Ryan plan is either a path to prosperity or a road to ruin. The Democrats say it destroys “Medicare as we know it,” and the Republicans say you may not like it all, but their plan will get the country to fiscal survivability, while the Democrats push the tough deficit-balancing issues off into the future.
By the end of 2011, HFN had brought more than 81,000 veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam to see their respective memorials. It is always a powerful experience for the veterans and volunteers alike with many tears and an overwhelming sense of pride.
If Medicare spending exceeds a certain target, the panel would make recommendations to Congress on how to lower Medicare spending, but with specific restrictions -- including no increases to beneficiaries -- premiums or cost sharing or cuts to benefits.
If you’ve ever tried to understand your Medicare bill, you will clearly applaud Medicare’s new rollout of its revamped billing statements.
The stated aim is to find new ideas for care to people in Medicare, Medicaid and CHIP (the children’s health program). The new money will be handed out in grants to organizations and local governments that work with patients in those federal programs.
Republicans have been campaigning in Congress and in the presidential campaign to “repeal and replace” Obama’s health care law. But so far, they have failed to answer a central question. Replace it with what?
So far, many states have begun establishing exchanges, but a few states – most notably Florida, Alaska and Louisiana have said they absolutely will not establish exchanges of their own. So a state with perhaps more seniors than almost any other, Florida, is leaving this up to the federal government to set up an exchange.
While the need for long term care remains and continues to grow as the baby boom generation starts retiring, the program’s administrator, Kathy Greenlee, said the numbers just didn’t add up.
For months, doctors, patients and others have been complaining about the unavailability of key drugs to treat cancer, to control infections and even to provide basic electrolytes to patients who need intravenous feeding.
The Court agreed to hear a lawsuit brought by 26 states and the National Federation of Independent Business that says Congress exceeded its power by requiring most Americans to buy health insurance starting in 2014.
All of these elements greatly affect what seniors actually pay on a daily basis, yet none of them are part of the measurement that is used to set the cost of living increase (or lack of it) that seniors are expected to live by.