From the monthly archives: July 2008
We are pleased to present below all posts archived in 'July 2008'. If you still can't find what you are looking for, try using the search box.
Congress once again did the right thing and cast a vote for seniors by setting aside the Bush administration’s flawed Medicare trigger
proposal (required in the privatization legislation passed in 2003) and the mandatory cuts it requires. Chairman Pete Stark says the trigger was passed solely “to do a hatchet-job on Medicare”. He’s so right.
The 45 percent threshold at which the “trigger” is set is a completely arbitrary limit included in the Medicare Modernization Act
. There has never been a public debate on whether it is appropriate to establish a cap on the federal revenue contribution to the Medicare program at any level, nor has any policy rationale been identified for selecting 45 percent as that federal contribution limit. The fact that more than 45 percent of Medicare financing may come from general revenues poses no more of a problem in itself than the fact that 100 percent of the financing for defense, veterans’ benefits, education or most other federal programs comes from general revenues. The problem facing Medicare is the cost of health care, not how the cost is allocated between revenue sources. Here’s reaction from our President Barbara Kennelly after last night’s House vote suspending consideration of the Medicare trigger:
“The National Committee applauds Congress for postponing cuts which would have hurt millions of seniors who depend on Medicare while ignoring the real challenges facing our healthcare system nationwide. The 45% financing cap, mandated in Medicare privatization legislation passed 5 years ago, is arbitrary and meaningless in the larger debate of reigning in the high cost of healthcare. This healthcare crisis is crippling our nation and skyrocketing costs affect not only seniors in Medicare but Americans of all ages. This trigger is nothing more than a distraction from the true challenge facing Medicare: how will our nation provide high-quality health care for an aging population in an era of unchecked health care costs? We congratulate Congress for turning the tide away from arbitrary cuts and cost-shifting to seniors in favor of taking the longer view. Our National Committee members look forward to working with Washington to craft meaningful reform which will serve seniors in Medicare, their children and grandchildren as well. “
When should I retire?
Sounds like such a simple question...one asked by millions of seniors each year. Yet the answers are as unique as the individual asking them. To help future retirees sort through it all, the Social Security Administration has unveiled a new benefits calculator
This isn’t a first for SSA but this latest version goes further than earlier models. The Baltimore Sun’s
Eileen Ambrose provides a nice breakdown of how it works:
You won't be able to use it if you don't have enough credits to qualify for benefits - 10 years of earnings - or you are already receiving benefits.
You will need to plug in your Social Security number and mother's maiden name. The agency says the site is secure. And when you print out your information, it won't include these identifying details.
The calculator will ask when you plan to stop working and your average future earnings. It combines these with your earnings history so far.
With the click of the mouse, you can see what your monthly benefit will likely be at 62 - the earliest year to receive benefits - and at other ages. You can,for instance, calculate the difference in benefits by working one more year,something the annual paper estimates don't tell you. In my case, retiring at 63 instead of 62 would mean an extra $100 a month.
Our own senior policy analyst, Mary Jane Yarrington, says the more tools available to workers the better. She answers hundreds of questions from seniors and future retirees each year. Do you have a Social Security question? You can reach her at: “Ask Mary Jane”.
Last week’s Medicare votes gave Congress and the President a simple choice: strengthen the Medicare program for seniors and their physicians or support billions in wasteful subsidies the health insurance industry has lobbied hard to protect. Ultimately, even those who’ve supported the billions of dollars of wasteful subsidies to private Medicare Advantage insurers for years realized this was a very important vote to seniors, doctors and their families.
While the major goal was to block scheduled cut in fees to doctors in Medicare there were many
other important provisions, which didn’t get as much attention, yet will affect millions of seniors on Medicare, such as:
- Provides lower out-of-pocket costs for mental health services
- Offers new preventive benefits to Medicare beneficiaries
- Some widely used anti-anxiety and sleep drugs will be added to Part D coverage
- Increases funding for low income beneficiaries and extends the program
until December, 2009
- Eliminates the Part D enrollment penalty for low income seniors
- Provides incentives to doctors to encourage electronic prescribing
For more details, here’s our summary of The Medicare Improvements For Patients and Providers Act (MIPPA).