Medicare Rights Releases Series of Fact Sheets on Key Medicare Proposals
Medicare remains squarely in the spotlight as debate continues about how to reduce the nation’s deficit. Policymakers have put forth various proposals to find savings in Medicare, many of which would cut program benefits or shift costs to older adults and people with disabilities—those who can least afford to pay more for their health care. To inform the debate, the Medicare Rights Center has developed a series of fact sheets about these proposals to change Medicare and their implications for the health and financial security of seniors and disabled Americans.
The series, “Paying More for Less,” includes fact sheets that discuss premium support models and proposals to increase the eligibility age of Medicare from 65 to 67. Proposals to increase the Medicare eligibility age would force 65- and 66-year-olds to either pay more for health coverage or go without insurance altogether. Not only do these proposals shift costs to people with Medicare, but they also fail to address the underlying cause of rising Medicare expenses: medical inflation across the entire health care sector, which increases costs for public and private insurance alike. Premium support, or voucher, models, such as the plan passed by the House of Representatives in March of this year, would privatize Medicare by replacing the program’s guaranteed set of benefits with a set amount that people could use to purchase health insurance. Studies have shown that under a premium support plan, people with Medicare would pay more and likely have less access to care.
Visit Medicare Rights’ Deficit Reduction and Medicare webpage for the fact sheet series, as well as additional letters, testimonies, and news stories about the importance of preserving Medicare for current and future beneficiaries when considering how to lower the nation’s debt.
Read “Paying More for Less: Raising the Eligibility Age.”
Read “Paying More for Less: Premium Support.”
Medicare Rights President Joe Baker on The Huffington Post Blog
This week, Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker published a blog for The Huffington Post. The blog, “Controlling Rising Health Care Costs: Medicare Is the Solution, Not the Problem,” reinforces the fact that Medicare is an innovator in health service delivery—and thereby cost—reform. According to the New England Journal of Medicine, private insurance spending per enrollee is projected to grow 5 percent over the next 10 years. In contrast, Medicare spending is only projected to grow 3.1 percent.
Radical proposals that aim to achieve savings in the Medicare program, such as raising the age of eligibility or turning Medicare into a voucher program, shift costs to beneficiaries. According to Mr. Baker’s blog, raising the Medicare age from 65 to 67 would force older adults to find other forms of health coverage, and 66 percent of these seniors would end up paying more than they would under Medicare. Vouchers to help seniors pay for their own private insurance would not increase with rising health care costs, thus leaving older adults and people with disabilities to pay more for their care over time.
Mr. Baker’s blog reminds policymakers that real cost-savings are only possible through cost control in the health care system overall. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) includes new innovations, such as lowering reimbursements rates for hospitals with high readmission rates, and establishing new provider teams, known as Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs), with financial incentives to keep costs down and better coordinate care for Medicare beneficiaries. Instead of shifting costs to people with Medicare, these innovations find cost-savings by looking to Medicare as a solution.
Read Mr. Baker’s blog post.
You are limited in when and how often you can join, change or leave a Medicare private health plan, also known as a Medicare Advantage plan, or a Part D prescription drug plan. Other than your Initial Enrollment Period (when you first qualify for Medicare), the Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period, and Fall Open Enrollment Period (which is currently taking place), you can only change how you receive your Medicare benefits if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period (SEP).
There are specific circumstances that must apply for you to qualify for an SEP. The length of the SEP and the effective date of your new coverage vary depending on the reason for the SEP.
Please note that while Fall Open Enrollment spans October 15 to December 7, 2012, with coverage effective January 1, 2013, if you were affected by Hurricane Sandy and are unable to make a plan selection by the December 7 deadline, you have an extension. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) responded to the concerns of the Medicare Rights Center and other advocates, people with Medicare, and their families by extending the Fall Open Enrollment Period. Affected individuals can call 800-MEDICARE (800-633-4227) to make a plan selection at any time after December 7, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each request will be reviewed to determine the best course of action, based on individual circumstances. Enrollment into a plan after December 7 will be effective the month after the enrollment request is made.
Learn more about the different SEPs at www.medicareinteractive.org, or call our helpline at 800-333-4114.
The National Academy of Social Insurance (NASI), a network of the nation’s leading experts on social insurance, recently invited Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker to serve as a member. Mr. Baker will lend his expertise to the academy as it strives to achieve its mission of “advanc[ing] solutions to challenges facing the nation by increasing public understanding of how social insurance contributes to economic security.”
Other NASI members include Medicare Rights board members, Dr. Bruce Vladeck, Senior Advisor at Nexera Incorporated, Dr. Theodore Marmor, Professor Emeritus at Yale University, and Dr. Marilyn Moon, Vice President and Director of the Health Program at the American Institutes for Research.
Visit the NASI website.