Early this morning, the U.S. Senate once again defended the American people and rejected a bill that would have devastated American families, led to tens of millions of people losing coverage, and put the Medicaid program at risk. The “Health Care Freedom Act,” the so-called “skinny repeal” bill, was defeated 49-51, ending this partisan attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a reasonable substitute that would protect the coverage and care for all Americans.
It’s been an eventful couple of weeks when it comes to Congress’s efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Last week, it appeared the Senate would not be able to pass any bills, or even bring any bills to the floor for a vote. This week, the Senate voted on several health care bills and each one was defeated. Here’s what you need to know:
This week, the House Budget Committee approved a 2018 budget resolution that would end Medicare’s guarantee of health coverage by converting the program to a premium support system. It would cut Medicare spending by $487 billion, largely by shifting more health care costs to beneficiaries. This is in contrast to President Trump’s budget, which spares Medicare from cuts.
In a shocking twist, Senate leadership decided this week that they will no longer advance the Better Care Reconciliation Act, a bill that would have slashed Medicaid, spiked costs for older adults, and yanked coverage away from 22 million Americans. This news would be welcome, if not for reports that the Senate is now rumored to turn to an already discredited scheme to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without a meaningful and simultaneous replacement.
Today, Stacy Sanders, federal policy director of the Medicare Rights Center, testified in support of a proposed law that would increase the civil monetary penalties and criminal fines for certain types of Medicare fraud at a hearing held by the Subcommittee on Health of the U.S. House Committee on Energy and Commerce. The hearing focused on a number of bipartisan bills to improve Medicare, including the Medicare Civil and Criminal Penalties Update Act of 2017 (H.R. 3245).
In the past year alone, Medicare Rights answered 20,000 questions on our free, multilingual helpline, secured $6 million in Medicare benefits for our clients with low-incomes, and educated hundreds of thousands of people about Medicare at presentations nationwide.
The Trustees find that the Medicare Hospital Insurance (Part A) Trust Fund is solvent through 2029—a year longer than previously predicted—and that in 2016 the Trust Fund had a $5.4 billion surplus, with surpluses anticipated through 2022. Further, the Supplemental Medical Insurance (Part B and Part D) Trust Fund remains on firm financial footing, and last year’s warning that 2017 growth would trigger the creation of an Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) did not come to fruition.
After failing to bring their health care overhaul bill to a vote last month, leadership in theUS Senate released an updated version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) today. As in previous versions of this bill, the updated BCRA ends Medicaid as we know it. It maintains the previous cuts to the program, including an estimated $772 billion cuts over 10 years, with cuts reaching 35% within 20 years.
The Medicare Rights Center recently submitted comments responding to a federal request for information titled “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act: Reducing Regulatory Burdens and Improving Health Care Choices to Empower Patients.” The comments provide detailed suggestions about how the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) can improve the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) regulatory landscape to empower patients and promote choice; stabilize the individual, small group, and other health insurance markets; enhance affordability; and affirm the traditional regulatory authority of the states.
I am almost eligible for Medicare. I currently have coverage with a Marketplace plan– my coverage is low and I receive cost assistance. Do I have to switch coverage plans and enroll in Medicare?
– Evelyn (Brainerd, MN)