Posts tagged "Medicare"

h/t: Sahil Kapur at TPM


The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) announced today that same-sex spouses will be recognized in administering several aspects of the Medicare program, regardless of where the couple lives. CMS works with the Social Security Administration to conduct eligibility determinations and to enroll seniors and individuals with certain disabilities in the program. Social Security updated their own marriage recognition policies earlier this week to streamline the handling of marriage-based claims involving transgender people. The announcement is the latest step implementing the Supreme Court’s decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Social Security will now begin processing Medicare enrollment, requests for Special Enrollment Periods, and requests for reductions in late-enrollment penalties for many same-sex spouses. Eligibility for Medicare Part A and Part B coverage is particularly important for these families, who are disproportionately likely to be uninsured. Medicare Part A coverage is often available without paying a monthly premium, making it important for the many lesbian, gay, and bisexual people who struggle to afford coverage.

CMS’s decision also impacts some people who previously applied for a Special Enrollment Period but were denied eligibility because of DOMA. For some of these couples, Social Security will be able to approve a second request for a Special Enrollment Period, giving more immediate access to Medicare coverage.

For couples in domestic partnerships or civil unions this announcement offers some, but not all of the same opportunities for enrolling in Medicare coverage. Domestic partnerships and civil unions are not recognized for the purposes of Special Enrollment Periods for applicants 65 or older, but for those applicants with disabilities who are under 65, Special Enrollment Periods are available as long as the applicant has coverage through their partner’s current employer.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and CMS have been acting to implement the Windsor decision since last year, expanding coverage for many same-sex couples. HHS announced last month that plans sold through Marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act must offer coverage to all same-sex spouses starting in 2015. In September of last year, CMS sent a letter to state Medicaid directors granting discretion to recognize same-sex marriages according to the laws of their state.

Read the full Medicare announcement here.


On Tuesday, House Budget Committee Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) released his new budget blueprint for fiscal year 2015. It contains many of the same cuts to social safety net and low-income assistance programs as his previous proposals — including sweeping changes to Medicare that would turn the health care program for the elderly into a “premium support” plan that forces American seniors to pay more for their coverage.

Ryan’s new Medicare proposal hews to the same basic structure as his previous premium support plans — in essence, a system of insurance vouchers. Under the plan, future Medicare beneficiaries would have the option of choosing between traditional fee-for-service Medicare or a list of private health plans and receive a subsidy to help pay the chosen policy’s premium. Unlike previous Ryan budgets, however, seniors who are currently 55 or younger would be forced into this alternative system, likely breaking a pledge House Republicans made last year promising that current 55-year-olds would be able to stay on traditional Medicare.

Ryan emphasizes that his proposal still gives seniors the choice of remaining in regular Medicare. But what he doesn’t mention is that his plan makes Medicare so expensive that millions of seniors will likely be forced to switch into the private plans. While Ryan employs a different type of bidding system for private health plans under his 2015 blueprint that softens his plan’s topline effect on beneficiaries’ costs, an earlier Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of Medicare premium support systems found that plans such as Ryan’s would increase traditional Medicare premiums by a staggering 50 percent.

The millions of seniors who are forced over to private plans would also find themselves with different doctors and narrower coverage networks under Ryancare — ironic considering Republicans’ unabashed outrage over news that the Affordable Care Act had canceled about three or four million skimpy insurance policies. But unlike Obamacare, Ryan doesn’t require his replacement private plans to have a more robust base level of consumer protections and benefits than beneficiaries’ previous coverage.

Low-income seniors would be particularly hurt by the Ryan approach to Medicare since it would also raise the Medicare eligibility threshold. Since Ryan’s plan also dismantles Obamacare, including the health law’s Medicaid expansion, this would be a major blow to the poor and elderly who are just on the cusp of Medicaid eligibility. These people would be unlikely to qualify for Medicaid absent the ACA’s expansion and many of them would be forced to continue working simply for the sake of retaining their employer-sponsored coverage, a phenomenon known as “job lock.” Seniors who aren’t lucky enough to receive employer coverage would have to try their luck in an individual market absent Obamacare’s consumer protections and industry reforms, meaning they may be charged exorbitant rates for having poor health or denied health insurance altogether.

A full CBO analysis of Ryan’s new budget plan is necessary in order to evaluate its overall effect on seniors. But the blueprint Ryan released today suggests that it boils down to seniors paying a bigger chunk of money for their care or having fewer coverage options.

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House says President Barack Obama’s upcoming budget proposal will not include his past offer to accept lowered cost-of-living increases in Social Security and other benefit programs. Those had been a central component of his long-term debt-reduction strategy.

Officials said Thursday that those potential reductions in spending, included in last year’s Obama budget, had been designed to initiate negotiations with Republicans over how to reduce future deficits and the nation’s debt. But Republicans never accepted Obama’s calls for higher tax revenue to go along with the cuts.

One official said the offer would remain on the table in the event of new budget talks but that it would not be part of the president’s formal spending blueprint for fiscal 2015.

The official was not authorized to comment by name on the budget plan before its March 4 release and spoke only on condition of anonymity.

The decision to drop the cost-of-living proposal was essentially an acknowledgement that Obama has been unable to conclude a “grand budget bargain” with Republican leaders, even by including in his previous budget plan a benefit reduction opposed by many Democrats.

While Democrats will cheer the new decision, Republicans are sure to portray the White House move as abandoning any commitment to fiscal discipline.

The new Obama proposal would eliminate congressionally mandated automatic spending cuts that are scheduled to continue kicking in through 2015 by adding $56 billion to the budget, evenly divided between military and domestic spending. That increase would include money for what the White House calls an “Opportunity, Growth, and Security Initiative.”

H/T: Huffington Post

On his radio show yesterday, Bryan Fischer called for ending Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, as well as the elimination of the minimum wage … all in order to help the poor and those struggling to make ends meet, of course.

So logically this discussion resulted in Fischer eventually calling for a return to an electoral system in which only people who own property can vote.

"You know, back in the day, in the colonial period," Fischer said, "you have to be a landowner, a property owner to be eligible to vote and I don’t think that’s a bad idea. And the is very simple: if somebody owns property in a community, they’re invested in the community. If they’re renters, they’re going to be up and gone; they could leave the next day … [P]eople that are not property owners - it’s like people that pay no taxes, they have no skin in the game. They don’t care about the same things that somebody does who is rooted in the community."

From the 01.14.2014 edition of AFR’s Focal Point:

More delusional advice from Bryan Fischer.

h/t: Kyle Mantyla at RWW


Darrell Issa: A shill shilling for shills.

h/t: Ruy Teixeira at Think Progress Economy


America way of life under attack from within.

Via Bernie Sanders on FB.

(via holygoddamnshitballs)

h/t: Joan McCarter at Daily Kos

Jim DeMint: Today’s worst person in the world!!!

Heritage Foundation president and former Senator Jim DeMint suggested to a town hall audience in Wilmington, Delaware Thursday that health care programs like Medicare and Medicaid are “un-American” and built on the principles of “socialism and collectivism.”

“I cannot think of anything that’s more un-American than national government-run health care,” DeMint said. “Those who believe in those principles of socialism and collectivism we’ve seen over the centuries, they see as their holy grail taking control of the health care system.”

Though DeMint was referring specifically to the Affordable Care Act, a law the Heritage Foundation is urging Congress to defund in next month’s continuing resolution, his comments could also apply to existing programs that have more direct government involvement than the ACA.

While the federal government does establish the rules and guidelines private insurers must follow in offering coverage for the uninsured though reform and directly finances insurance expansion for lower-income Americans who are eligible for Medicaid — often by contracting with private insurers — numerous other popular government programs like Medicare, the Veterans Health Administration and even the Federal Employees Health Benefits Plan (FEHBP) (which DeMint himself relied on for health care coverage as a member of the Senate) are operated by the government.

Public health comprises more than 40 percent of the nation’s health care spending and that percentage will remain stable as the Affordable Care Act is implemented. By 2014,“private health insurance is anticipated to account forroughly 31 percent of national health spending, or about the same share as was expected without enactment of the Affordable Care Act,” actuaries at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid estimate.

DeMint warned his town hall audience that the system threatens Americans’ freedoms. “[Health care is] such a personal service, it’s such a big part of the economy,” he said. “If [Democrats] can control that, they can control most areas of our lives.”

h/t: Igor Volsky at Think Progress Health

(via RNCTV Blames Obamacare “Death Panels” For Reduced Cancer Treatments Caused By Budget Cuts | Blog | Media Matters for America)

A Fox News analyst invoked the discredited “death panels” myth to stoke fears that cancer clinics are turning away patients as a result of the 2010 health care reform law, even as those clinics say they are being forced to turn away patients because of automatic across-the-board budget cuts that took effect last month.

On April 5, Fox News analyst Peter Johnson, Jr. appeared on Fox & Friends to discuss the story and blamed not only sequestration, but President Obama’s health care reform law, saying: "This is about people dying as a result of Obamacare and as a result of the sequester." Johnson then claimed that Medicare growth reduction, which is in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), would lead to similar problems for Medicare patients. Later, Johnson used this situation to push the right-wing myths about “death panels” under the ACA.

ohnson’s claim that the ACA resulted in cancer patients losing chemotherapy treatment is groundless. The Post’s Kliff explained in her post how sequestration is solely responsible for this reduction in care.

Johnson’s claim that the ACA will cause reductions in care for Medicare beneficiaries is also false, and haslong been pushed by right-wing media. The ACA does not cut Medicare benefits - it actually reduces future payments in areas seen as inefficient or wasteful, and health care experts have said that it shouldn’t negatively affect the quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries.

Finally, Johnson’s “death panel” fearmongering stems from a baseless right-wing myth that has persisted since mid-2009.



Rep. Grayson: Fighting to Protect This.

Before we get down to business, just a brief reminder: if you would like a chance to join Congressman Grayson at Disney World, then click here and contribute $25 or more to his reelection campaign today (or here).

Evidence mounts each day that The Powers That Be in Washington are looking to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits.  A couple of weeks ago, some key progressive leaders joined a conference call hosted by the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC), to discuss how to protect and defend Social Security and Medicare.  Here is what Congressman Grayson had to say:

Adam Green: Hey folks, thank you so much for joining [us]. This is Adam Green, co-founder of the Progressive Change Campaign Committee. And I want to welcome you to our briefing today. In the midst of this sequester, we have great Progressives talking about their positions on the [Social Security and Medicare] cuts… .  So without further ado, we are very proud to first turn things over to one of our bold, Progressive heroes, Congressman Grayson.

Congressman Alan Grayson: Yes. Thank you. Thanks very much. When we first put this [“”] letter together, I thought hard about the promise that it makes. And let me read it to you verbatim:

“We are writing to the President to let you know that we will vote against any and every cut to Medicare, Medicaid, or Social Security benefits — including raising the retirement age or cutting the cost of living adjustments that our constituents earned and need.”

I gave it a lot of thought before I signed off on this letter, as to whether I really meant it, whether that was my “red line.”  I tried to think about all the different possibilities that might come up, the things that might go into a bill that would cut [benefits], what would be appealing to me. Honestly, I thought, ‘What if they had said they were going to end the war in Afghanistan? ‘[in a bill that would cut Social Security] — that’s something very important to me. But I realized in the end that I had nothing. I couldn’t think of a single thing that could be put into a bill that would make me willing to break our promise to our constituents, for something they earned and so badly need. They paid for it. They need it. They want it. They deserve it.  It’s that simple.

And I understand the difficulty that many people may have in this Congress, in predicting what might come up and making a commitment, making up their minds. A lot of people always want to keep their options open.  But I think this is a fair test.  This is a fair test.

This is a fair test of your commitment to basic principles, because a cut to Social Security benefits, Medicare benefits, Medicaid benefits is cheating old people, cheating poor people, cheating sick people. That’s what it comes down to.  It’s taking something away from them that they need it to live – something they’ve earned themselves. And I can’t do it. So I’m happy to say to the President, to you all, and to anybody else that listens: I won’t do it. I just won’t. I’m not going to use my vote to hurt people who are that needy and that deserving. I won’t do it.

And I’m apparently not the only who feels this way, because even though we have had this [] letter just out now for a couple of weeks, before today we had 25 Members of Congress who had signed on to this letter. Today, there are two more. We have been joined by Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts and William Lacy Clay of Missouri. And there will be more to come, because first of all, it’s right, and secondly, it’s good politics. And that has become clear to me more and more, as I talk to people.

Chairman Ryan’s budget resolution calls for private plans to provide benefits that are at least actuarially equivalent to the benefit package provided by fee-for-service Medicare, which gives private insurance companies incentives to manipulate their plans to attract the youngest and healthiest seniors. This would leave traditional Medicare with older and sicker beneficiaries whose higher health costs could lead to higher premiums that they and others would be unable or unwilling to pay, resulting in a death spiral for traditional Medicare. This could adversely impact people age 55 and older, including people currently enrolled in traditional Medicare, despite the assertion that nothing will change for them.

(via reagan-was-a-horrible-president)