As the Affordable Care Act continues to be implemented, our experts are closely monitoring developments that affect people with Medicare. Immediately below you will find our latest fact sheets on health reform and Medicare.
Health Reform Implementation
Health Reform and Medicare: The Doughnut Hole in 2012
Health Reform and Medicare: Closing the Doughnut Hole
Health Reform and Medicare: A Timeline of Implementation
Questions and Answers on Medicare and Health Reform
Comments on Functions, Eligibility and Standards of Health Insurance Exchanges
Health Reform and Medicare Archive
Medicare Rights Center, along with fellow advocacy organizations, worked diligently throughout the course of the health reform debate to advance the interests of the people we serve. Below you will find an archive of our activity during this time, including fact sheets, letters and news stories featuring our experts. Note: Some of the information below may be outdated. For the latest on health reform and Medicare, see the links above and susbribe to our weekly policy newsletter, Medicare Watch.
Archived Publications on the Issues
Health Reform Implementation
Health Reform and Medicare: The $250 Doughnut Hole Rebate
Health Reform and Medicare: The Doughnut Hole in 2011
Medicare Part D and Health Reform: A Timeline of Changes to the Medicare Prescription Drug Program
New Open Enrollment and Disenrollment Periods
Medicare-Covered Preventive Services
Comments on Federal Funding for Medicaid Eligibility Determination and Enrollment
The Final Health Reform Bill
Side-by-Side Comparison of Health Reform Bills' Impact on Medicare
Get the Facts: Health Reform and Medicare
Infórmese bien: la reforma de salud y Medicare
March 24, 2010 Letter to Senate Majority Leader Reid
March 19, 2010 Letter to House Speaker Pelosi
Letters, Fact Sheets and Testimony for House and Senate Bills
Get the Facts: Health Reform and Medicare
Infórmese bien: la reforma de salud y Medicare
Health Reform Check-Up: Better Preventive Care for People with Medicare
Health Reform Check-Up: Improvements to Drug and Medical Coverage under Medicare Private Plans
December 24, 2009 Letter to Senate Majority Leader Reid and House Speaker Pelosi
November 17, 2009 Letter in Support of H.R. 3961
November 2, 2009 Letter in Support of H.R. 3962
October 19, 2009 Letter to Senator Stabenow in Support of S.1776
September 23, 2009 Letter to Members of Senate Finance Committee December 1, 2009 Testimony of Paul Precht before the Senate Special Committee on Aging: "The Senate Health Care Reform Bill -- How Will It Benefit Seniors?"
Testimony of Joe Baker to New York State Senate Committee on Aging
Additional News Stories Featuring Our Experts
Medicare Is Now Offering Some Free Tests and Services
Washington Post, April 25, 2011, by Susan Jaffe
Despite tough economic times, there are some things the government can’t give away. Starting this year, seniors enrolled in Medicare no longer have to pay for more than a dozen tests and other services to help prevent or control cancer and other costly and debilitating diseases. These benefits, which also include an annual wellness exam, are part of the new federal health-care law. Read entire story.
Medicare's Drug Coverage Gap to Shrink Away Under Health Care Reform
HealthDay, April 8, 2011, by Amanda Gardner
Starting this year, Medicare Part D's widely despised "donut hole" -- the gap in drug cost coverage enrollees encounter when they reach a certain spending threshold -- will start to disappear, one result of the health care reform package enacted last year, experts say. Read entire story.
If You Have Medicare
Consumer Reports, April 2011
The Affordable Care Act and other Medicare changes are bringing significant new benefits to seniors this year. Read entire story.
Be Sure to Steer Clear of Those Medicare Potholes
Chicago Tribune, March 25, 2011, by Janet Kidd Stewart
Are you hitting age 65 this year, along with millions of other baby boomers? It may not mean retirement or full Social Security benefits, but it's still the trigger point for Medicare, and getting signed up properly for this important benefit is crucial. Read entire story.
Medicare Expands Preventive-Care Coverage
Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 17, 2011, by Tammie Smith
Q: Would you give an example of the types of preventive care that will be free under Medicare? I think that we are entitled to one free physical exam after we turn 65, but that is all that I know of.
A: That exam is still available for new enrollees. Also, starting this year, people in original Medicare will be able to get many preventive-care screenings and counseling without having to make Part B co-pays or meet deductibles. It's one of the provisions of federal health-care reform. Read entire story.
2011 Outlook for Senior Healthcare
U.S. News & World Report, December 17, 2010, by Philip Moeller
Senior healthcare will face big changes and challenges in 2011. The health reform law will usher in free preventive health services for all Medicare users and significant reductions in drug expenses for millions of seniors. Private insurance plans that supplement basic Medicare are expected to continue shrinking in number and, in some cases, covered benefits. Medicare also is introducing shifts in the timing for annual Medicare enrollment, and experts are concerned that many consumers may be unaware of these rule changes in time to make the best Medicare coverage decisions. Read entire story.
Live Health Chat: Medicare
Tribune Company, December 7, 2010, moderated by Judy Graham
The first baby boomers turn 65 next year. What do they need to know about Medicare, the government's vast healthcare program for people 65 years and older? How is this program structured and what benefits does it provide? How do people enroll? What medical expenses are and are not covered by Medicare? How is health reform changing the outlook for people on Medicare? What are Medicare Advantage plans and how are they changing? Our experts from the Medicare Rights Center can answer these questions and more. Read a transcript of the chat.
Health Law's Aim: Multiple Vaccines for More People
Kaiser Health News, December 6, 2010, by Michelle Andrews
It's flu season: Time to get your flu shot. For many adults and their doctors, if they discuss immunizations at all, the conversation ends there. It shouldn't. There are several vaccines that adults need, depending on their age and risk factors, to protect against serious diseases, including shingles, pneumonia, hepatitis and cervical cancer. Read entire story.
Your 2011 Medicare Coverage: Time To Compare Options
MarketWatch, November 15, 2010, by Kristen Gerencher
If you or someone you love is one of the 47 million older and disabled Americans enrolled in the federal Medicare program, Nov. 15 marks the first day you can switch your health and drug coverage for next year. Read entire story.
7 Medicare 2011 Enrollment Tips
U.S. News & World Report, November 12, 2010, by Philip Moeller
This year's enrollment period for 2011 Medicare coverage extends from November 15 to the end of the year. There are lots of changes in the various insurance programs that collectively make up Medicare. Experts say it's well worth the time to make sure your 2011 coverage remains the best deal for you. Read entire story.
What Do We Need To Know About Medicare Open Enrollment?
CNNhealth.com, November 11, 2010, by Sanjay Gupta
As a feature of CNNhealth.com, our team of expert doctors will answer readers' questions. Read entire story.
Medicare Part D Changes Not Overwhelming, Experts Say
HealthDay, November 11, 2010, by Amanda Gardner
Seniors enrolled in Medicare Part D prescription drug plans will come across some changes as they choose a new plan or reassess an old one during the upcoming open enrollment period, but experts say those differences won't be monstrous. Open enrollment starts Nov. 15 and continues through Dec. 31, and any changes will take effect Jan. 1, 2011. Read entire story.
Review Your Medicare Part D Options Before Sign-Ups Start
Los Angeles Times, October 18, 2010, by Francesca Lunzer Kritz
The sign-up period for Medicare Part D (Medicare's prescription drug program) for 2011 runs Nov. 15 to Dec. 31. Here's our best tip: Start reviewing your options now. Read entire story.
Brownback Warns of Medicare Advantage Cuts
Kansas Health Institute, October 19, 2010, by Mike Shields
GOP gubernatorial candidate Sam Brownback has vowed to fight federal health reform, if elected. According to the candidate, if the Affordable Care Act is implemented as planned, "44,000 Kansans enrolled in Medicare Advantage plans will have their benefits reduced by half." But leading advocates for seniors say the candidate's claim is questionable or off the mark. Read entire story.
Medicare Shopping Season Meets Healthcare Reform
Reuters, October 14, 2010
The mailboxes of senior citizens fill up this time of year with an avalanche of direct mail pitches for Medicare D prescription drug plans and Advantage managed care networks. With dozens of plans available in most parts of the country, the fall annual enrollment period can be a complex chore for Medicare beneficiaries — and sometimes for adult children helping out elderly parents with money matters. Read entire story.
Accentuate the Positive
Salina Journal, September 22, 2010, by Chris Hunter
As some of the changes made by federal health care reform are set to go in effect Thursday, more than 800 seniors heard how the law would affect them and Medicare at the 2010 Senior Fair on Tuesday at the Salina Bicentennial Center. "Our main goal is to provide accurate information to folks (about health care reform)," said Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center. "They are hearing a lot of negative things, but not a lot of positive things, about the new law." Read entire story.
Assessing the Needs of Disabled Medicare Beneficiaries
Kaiser Health News, September 8, 2010, by Jessica Marcy
Policy makers need more concrete information about the characteristics of the disabled community and its unique challenges, a senior White House adviser said today at a forum about Medicare disability and health care reform. Read entire story.
Ask Nancy: How does that 50% doughnut hole prescription discount work?
Consumer Reports, August 13, 2010, by Nancy Metcalf
Question: When I filled out the Medicare prescription compare plan, I miscalculated my husband's insulin prescription. Consequently, we reached the doughnut hole within five weeks. In 2011, we are told that we will be paying 50 percent less on name-brand drugs while in the doughnut hole. Will the full price of the drugs be deducted from $4,550 that the feds require us to pay? Or, will it just be our 50 percent share, meaning we'll still end up paying $4,550 in the long run? Read the answer.
Taking Questions on Medicare
The New York Times, July 8, 2010
Courtesy of the Medicare Rights Center Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, is taking reader questions on Medicare. Read entire story.
Avoid Medicare Doughnut Hole Rebate Check Scams
Consumer Reports, June 18, 2010, by Anthony Giorgianni
As the first rebate checks go out to help those affected by the Medicare prescription drug coverage “doughnut hole,” recipients are being told to be on guard against scammers. Several state attorneys general have warned about a series of scams related to the tax-free, $250 rebate checks, the first wave which have recently been mailed. Read entire story.
Relief on Way for Elderly in Medicare’s ‘Doughnut Hole’
The Providence Journal, June 15, 2010, by Neil Downing
When Dorothy Plante had spent a certain amount last year for prescription drugs, her prescription drug insurance coverage suddenly stopped. In response, she stopped taking two prescriptions for a time — “the two most expensive ones,” she said — until her coverage kicked in again. Read entire story.
What Does Health Reform Mean for Women on Medicare?
Raising Women's Voices, June 7, 2010, by Lois Uttley
That's a common question that Raising Women's Voices coordinators are encountering as we present community forums around the nation on what is in the new health reform law, formally known as the Affordable Care Act. Apparently, we are not the only ones getting this question! Read entire story.
Changes to Medicare Advantage
The Wall Street Journal, May 9, 2010, by Anne Tergesen
Our recent column about the impact of new health-care legislation on Medicare prompted many readers to ask about the specific effects on Medicare Advantage programs, which currently cover about a quarter of Medicare recipients. With Medicare, individuals must choose one of two paths: original fee-for-service Medicare, or a federally subsidized private Medicare Advantage plan, which typically operates like a health-maintenance or preferred-provider organization. Read entire story.
Adult Children Get Health Coverage Extended, but Watch the Tans
The Oregonian, May 8, 2010, by Brent Hunsberger
What do college-age kids, adopting parents, Medicare recipients and tanning-bed heads have in common? They all stand to be affected soon by the health care overhaul -- mostly for the better. Read entire story.
US Healthcare: Reforms Get Started with Small but Certain Steps
Financial Times, May 4, 2010, by Anna Fifield
President Barack Obama might have achieved a political milestone with his overhaul of the US’s inefficient healthcare system, but it will be years before the practical effects are felt. For all the controversy that the reform effort generated in Washington – where protesters rallied against a “government takeover of healthcare” and labelled Mr Obama a “socialist” – relatively little will change immediately. Read entire story.
How Your Health Insurance Will Change
SmartMoney, April 26, 2010, by Lisa Scherzer
When President Obama signed health reform into law last month, perhaps the biggest sigh of relief was heard from people without insurance. After all, one of the primary goals of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was to provide affordable health coverage to those lacking it. With the new law, 32 million additional Americans will obtain coverage by 2019, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Read entire story.
Doctors Hear Many Questions About Health Law
The New York Times, April 18, 2010, by John Leland
Dr. Roger W. Evans, a cardiologist in Wichita, Kan., is used to answering patients’ questions about their hearts. But lately, he said, he has spent half his time answering a succession of different questions — about the health care law. Read entire story.
Online Resources for Information on Health-care Reform
Washington Post, April 6, 2010, by Francesca Lunzer Kritz
The ink was hardly dry on the health-care overhaul law when foundations, industry groups and consumer advocates began putting together guides to the new rules. Here are some Web sites worth keeping an eye on. Read entire story.
Health Care Reform and Medicare
Minnesota Public Radio, April 2, 2010, Midmorning with Kerri Miller
Some of the most heated rhetoric in the battle over health care reform revolved around the impact on Medicare and seniors. Now that the health care reform bill is law, Midmorning looks at what seniors can expect. Listen to the program below.
Health Care Reform: What You Should Do To Prepare Now
CBS MoneyWatch, March 30, 2010, by Lisa Collier Cool
Now that the health care overhaul is law, when will you start to see a difference? Some changes kick in immediately, but the rest trickle out over the next few years, with a few provisions not taking hold until the end of the decade. While you’re probably aware of some of the bill’s major changes, we’ve sorted through the nitty gritty details to help you start planning. Here’s a look at some of the key measures that you can — and should — prepare for in the coming months and beyond. Read entire story.
Medicare Recipients Likely To See Steady Drop in Prescription Costs
The Star-Ledger, March 29, 2010, by Susan Todd
The health care reform package provided a quick fix for hundreds of thousands of senior citizens who struggle to afford their prescription medicines each year. The sticky reimbursement problem, created by Medicare, Part D in 2006, became known as the "doughnut hole" soon after the Part D drug benefit went into effect. Read entire story.
Online Healthcare Reform Resources
Los Angeles Times, March 29, 2010, by Francesca Lunzer Kritz
Now that the overhaul of the nation's health insurance system has become a reality, even people who do have health insurance may want to be fluent in its specifics — to know what to expect, and when. Some changes take effect in a few months, some in a few years. Read entire story.
[Editor's note: This article links to the Medicare Rights Center's fact sheet on President Obama's health reform plan. An updated fact sheet on the final health reform package can be found here.]
New Rules on Generics Seen As Mixed Blessing
San Francisco Chronicle, March 28, 2010, by Victoria Colliver
A small piece of the new health care law provides a way for drug manufacturers to eventually create generic versions of brand-name biologic drugs. But some say the provision that allows biotechnology companies to hold on to their data exclusively for 12 years before the information becomes available to others amounts to a sweetheart deal for the industry. Read entire story.
System Overhaul: What It Means to Local Seniors
The Providence Journal, March 28, 2010, by Richard Salit
So what does the overhaul of the national health-care system mean if you’re a senior? That’s a vital question in Rhode Island, with a higher than average population over 65 and 173,831 on Medicare. Read entire story.
AARP Defends Health Care Legislation Despite Medicare Cuts
The Palm Beach Post, March 25, 2010, by Stacey Singer
Stung by charges that it had endorsed a half-trillion worth of benefit cuts for seniors, AARP went on the offensive today, extolling the merits of health reform to both its members on Medicare and those still too young to qualify. Read entire story.
Medicare Changes Misrepresented, Advocates Say
Chattanooga Times Free Press, March 24, 2010, by Emily Bregel
Many seniors and doctors who treat Medicare patients have been shaken up by news that health care reform efforts are largely funded by about $455 billion worth of projected savings in the government health insurance program for the elderly. Enrollees fear that the changes, to be implemented over 10 years, could chip away at their benefits and worry that lower payments will force providers to stop taking new Medicare patients. Read entire story.
Time To Stop Scaring Grandma About Health Reform
RetirementRevised.com, March 23, 2010, by Mark Miller
I’m trying to remember when it was that Republicans became such big champions of Medicare. Certainly not in 1965, when the GOP joined the American Medical Association in fighting enactment of the program. Read entire story.
What Health Reform Means for Your Retirement
MarketWatch, March 23, 2010, by Kristin Gerencher
How will the new health-care reform law signed by President Obama this week affect older Americans and those planning for their retirement years? There are three main ways. Read entire story.
Readers' Questions on the Health Care Overhaul
The New York Times, March 22, 2010
The landmark health care overhaul passed by the House late Sunday will provide medical coverage to tens of millions of uninsured Americans and will have an impact on nearly everyone who already has insurance. While the measure, elements of which now head to the Senate for reconciliation proceedings, will vastly broaden coverage, it also contains a number of new rules, new costs and other changes. Read entire story.
Texas Doctors Group Against Health Bill, Splits With AMA
Austin American-Statesman, March 22, 2010, by Mary Ann Roser
The state’s largest doctors’ group, the Texas Medical Association, has announced it is opposed to the federal health care bill, a split with its larger affiliate. The TMA, which has been on the fence about the proposed health care legislation, issued a statement late last night that said it is against the bill the House passed. Read entire story.
More on What the Health Care Overhaul Means for You
The New York Times, March 22, 2010, by Tara Siegel Bernard
Now that the House has passed legislation to overhaul the health care system, you may be wondering what it all means for you. Read entire story.
Last-ditch Effort Carries High Stakes for Florida Patients
The Palm Beach Post, February 22, 2010, by Stacey Singer
Few states have as much at stake in the health care fight as Florida, a state where one in five residents lacks any health coverage, where what coverage is available for the poor is breaking the bank, and where a large percentage of people — seniors — have government-provided health care that they're keen to protect. On the day President Obama released his health care proposal, the president of the Florida Hospital Association pleaded for an end to the congressional impasse. Read entire story.
Democrats Vow to Close Medicare 'Doughnut Hole'
Associated Press, December 17, 2009, by Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
It's an annual ordeal for many seniors living on a budget. Medicare's coverage gap for prescription drugs -- $3,610 next year -- has steadily gotten bigger since the benefit's inception. But if Democrats have their way on health care overhaul, the dreaded "doughnut hole" will shrink by $500 right away and go away altogether by 2019. Read entire story.
Medicare Groups Rebut McCain Measure
The New York Times Prescriptions Blog, December 2, 2009
Two consumer advocacy groups that focus on Medicare beneficiaries issued a joint statement Wednesday, criticizing the amendment to the Senate health care bill offered by Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona. Read entire story.
The Disabled and the Doctors
Columbia Journalism Review, November 9, 2009, by Trudy Lieberman
As members of Congress ticked off for the home crowds the general achievements of their narrowly passed bill Saturday, and advocates for the elderly praised the goodies for Medicare beneficiaries, nobody mentioned that one important fix which would have helped some two million people was still missing. That was ending the two-year Medicare waiting period for people with disabilities—a proposal that some pols, including Sen. Max Baucus, seemed to advocate a year ago, when everything seemed possible. Read entire story.
House Poised to Make Health Care History
The Oregonian, November 6, 2009, by The Oregonian Editorial Board
Sometime within the next few days, and perhaps even as soon as Saturday, the U.S. House is destined to make history. Representatives will do it by voting on America's first major health care reform since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid 44 years ago. Read entire story.
Medicare Fee Cuts Will Test Doctors' Patience with Congress
McClatchy Newspapers, October 21, 2009, by David Lightman
Doctors' Medicare fees would be cut 21 percent next year unless some change is approved, and quickly, but Senators sent a strong signal Wednesday that they're reluctant to spend billions on a long-term solution. Read entire story.
Hidden Costs of Medicare Advantage
The Washington Post, October 15, 2009, by Philip Rucker
Patrick Higney, 66, doesn't want to give up the freebies that come with his zero-premium Medicare Advantage plan: free aspirin and free Band-Aids, a free blood pressure machine and a free ear thermometer. [...] The trouble is, the extra benefits are not exactly free; they are subsidized by the government. And some of the plans pass their costs on to seniors, who pay higher co-pays and additional fees to get care. Read entire story.
On Health Care Reform, Listen to Joe Baker
The Oregonian, September 9, 2009, by Doug Bates
If health reform legislation pending in the U.S. House of Representatives becomes law, people with Medicare stand to benefit from improved coverage of prescription drugs and preventive services. Says who? None other than Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, the nation's preeminent advocacy group for people on Medicare. Read entire story.