As Congress moves quickly to send a tax bill to the President before the end of the year, the Senate is now closer to passing their version of the bill. The Senate cleared key process hurdles this week, passing their bill out of committee and passing a Motion to Proceed that allows the bill to be introduced on the Senate floor. Now Senators have a maximum of 20 hours of debate, plus a series of quick votes on an unknown number of amendments that various Senators may offer, known as “vote-a-rama.”
This week, the Medicare Rights Center joined with the AARP Public Policy Institute to release a new report, Consumer Protections in New Medicare Payment and Delivery Models: A Checklist. This checklist is the result of a partnership between Medicare Rights and the AARP Public Policy Institute in which we identified a set of concrete consumer protections that we believe should be integrated into the design of all Medicare models.
As families around the country prepare to gather with loved ones for the Thanksgiving holiday, the House passed a tax bill that would threaten the health and economic security of many low-income and middle-class families.
This Thanksgiving, talk turkey about taxes! It’s not too late to protect our health care and our families. Here’s what you can do:
As the House and Senate rush to make changes to their versions of the tax bill, it keeps getting worse and worse, posing an immediate threat to the Medicare program and health care coverage for 13 million Americans under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projects that the enormous cost of the tax bill would prompt immediate, automatic, and ongoing spending cuts to Medicare – $25 billion in 2018 alone.
According to a new issue brief by the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), one million people with Medicare Part D had drug costs above the catastrophic limit in 2015. On average, they spent $1,251 after they hit the catastrophic limit and more than $3,000 total on their prescriptions for the year. While Part D helps bring down the drug costs for people with Part D, many are still exposed to high drug costs. This is because Part D does not place a cap on how much people can spend out of pocket on their drugs.
The House Republican tax plan is currently being debated by the Ways and Means Committee, and several of the provisions would have a devastating impact on older adults and people with disabilities. Most notably, the plan does away with the medical expense deduction, which allows people who spend more than 10% of their income on health care expenses to deduct the remainder of their medical expenses from their federally taxed income.
Medicare Rights, along with other organizations, sent a letter to congress urging them to protect this deduction. The letter highlights how this deduction helps people facing huge medical bills keep a bit more in their pockets–perhaps delaying enrolling in Medicaid, the state and federal program that covers healthcare and long-term care expenses for people with low incomes and limited assets.
As 2017 winds down, there are several smaller pieces of Medicare legislation, often called “Medicare extenders,” that must pass Congress to keep the program stable in 2018. Extenders establish programs for a short time, and have to be passed or funded by Congress every one to two years. Two extenders are particularly important to people with Medicare: the low-income outreach and assistance extender and the therapy cap exception extender. Both extenders will expire in December of 2017 if Congress does not act.
Last week, the Medicare Rights Center (Medicare Rights) submitted comments to the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) on their draft strategic plan for 2018-2022. The draft document sets out HHS’s priorities and goals for the next four years, and it identifies areas of focus and activities HHS will undertake to achieve these goals