Letter and “Medicare Voices” Report Sent to Supercommittee
Policymakers must consider the experiences of Medicare beneficiaries and their caregivers in determining appropriate deficit-reduction policies, according to a letter sent this week from Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the “supercommittee.” Specifically, the letter discussed the damaging effects of proposals that cut benefits or shift extra costs to the Medicare population and their families.
Attached to the letter was “Medicare Voices,” a new report that features stories from across the nation from actual people with Medicare and the professionals who help them, collected as responses to the question “What do you like about Medicare?” The report highlights the importance of the Medicare program in the lives of those who depend upon it.
The letter and report were sent in preparation for the committee’s second hearing on Tuesday, September 13, which was the first public, substantive discussion of their mission to reduce the federal deficit by at least $1.2 trillion. The committee members heard testimony from Douglas Elmendorf, director of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO)—the organization in charge of determining the price tags for policies developed by Congress. Also on Tuesday, the committee launched their website, where recordings of hearings will be posted and where the public may enter comments and ideas about which actions they think the committee should or should not take.
Read Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker’s letter to the supercommittee.
Read the Medicare Rights Center’s new report, “Medicare Voices.”
Visit the supercommittee’s website.
Medicare Private Plan Market Remains Strong
The 2012 market for Medicare private plans, which include Medicare Advantage (MA) plans and prescription drug plans (PDPs), remains stable compared to past years, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
For the 2012 plan year, premiums for Medicare Advantage plans have dropped by 4 percent on average, while prescription drug plan premiums remain mostly unchanged. In addition, most people with Medicare who choose to enroll in plans will continue to have a choice of multiple MA plans and PDPs in their area, though the number of plans available varies from county to county. Also, compared to 2011 there are fewer plan terminations—only 1 percent of Medicare beneficiaries are in plans that will not renew their contracts in 2012—and fewer automatic reassignments of individuals who have the Medicare prescription drug Low-Income Subsidy (LIS), a program that helps people with low incomes pay for drug coverage and prescriptions.
Also new this year is a requirement that MA plans cover certain preventive services at zero cost-sharing, as is the case in Original Medicare. In addition, as a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), beneficiaries will continue to receive discounts on drugs when they reach the Medicare prescription drug coverage gap. Finally, this year CMS will reward plans that receive five-star ratings with bonus payments, and will allow them to market and enroll individuals year-round.
Fall Open Enrollment begins earlier this year; it will run from October 15 to December 7.
Read Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker’s statement on the release of Medicare private plan information.
Read HHS’s Press Release on Medicare Advantage and Fall Open Enrollment.
Visit CMS’s Open Enrollment Center and access state-by-state information and 2012 MA and PDP landscapes.
If you wish to change your Medicare private drug plan, in most cases you will be able to do so only once a year, during Fall Open Enrollment. Starting in 2011, Fall Open Enrollment occurs between October 15 and December 7 of every year. If you make a change during this time, your new coverage will begin January 1.
Outside of Fall Open Enrollment, you may be able to change your Part D plan during a Special Enrollment Period (SEP), or, if you have a Medicare Advantage plan, during the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP).
Learn more about changing your Medicare private drug plan at www.medicareinteractive.org.
A recent Forbes article on the deficit-cutting supercommittee featured Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker, who spoke out against deficit proposals that would shift costs to older adults and people with disabilities.
Read the article.