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Posts Tagged 'healthcare reform'

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The Affordable Care Act and Medicare

Talking Points Memo has a good post on the New England Journal of Medicine’s new report on slowing the cost growth in Medicare spending. NEJM asks, “Slower Growth in Medicare Spending — Is This the New Normal?”

“On the whole, we do not believe that the recent slowdown in Medicare spending growth is a fluke,” wrote the researchers Chapin White and Paul Ginsburg. Thanks to the cost-control reforms over the last decade, they added, “the CBO projects that over the next decade Medicare spending per enrollee will grow substantially more slowly than the overall economy.” They argued that the ACA in particular lays the framework for longer term cost-control by transitioning the provider reimbursement system from paying for quantity to paying for quality, something even Republicans quietly believe is a good idea.”
TPM also writes:
“If the cost-growth slowdown continues into the foreseeable future, it could have dramatic implications on the future of health care policy. The conservative movement has disliked Medicare ever since its inception in the early 1960s, when Ronald Reagan argued it would spell the end of freedom in America. Half a century after enactment, Republicans have found a potent pretext to dismantle the senior safety-net program: impending fiscal doom. Indeed, official projections in recent years have found that Medicare spending is on course to swallow the entire federal budget in half a century. And that has been the central justification for the GOP’s plan, written by Rep. Paul Ryan, to phase out traditional Medicare and replace it with a subsidized private insurance system. But if the NEJM projections hold, the threat of fiscal catastrophe would lose steam. And that means Republicans would have to resort to ideological arguments against Medicare if they want to end its basic structure — a hard sell given the program’s immense popularity. Prior efforts to dramatically scale back Medicare benefits have fallen flat, and without being able to portray privatization or “premium support” as critical to avoiding fiscal apocalypse, as Ryan does on a regular basis, there’s no reason to expect a different outcome.”
What this piece doesn’t mention is the fact that not only has healthcare reform slowed cost growth, it also uses some of those savings to provide new benefits for seniors -- a fact never discussed by conservatives who want the Affordable Care Act repealed before seniors even realize these new benefits exist. The Patients Aware campaign has launched a nationwide campaign to cut through all this political rhetoric on Medicare.  You can check it out  at

www. patientsaware.org

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Will Washington Keep it's Promise to Seniors?

“After so many months of heated budget partisanship and rhetoric, President Obama confirmed what America’s seniors have known for a lifetime—programs like Social Security and Medicare are investments which help make us the great nation we are today—and should not be sacrificed for deficit reduction.  We applaud the President for stating clearly that destroying programs and services which benefit middle class Americans and seniors does not represent the kind of America most of us are proud of.  GOP budget proposals which end Medicare as we know it while providing even more tax cuts for the wealthy is not shared sacrifice and America’s seniors understand that.”  Barbara B. Kennelly, President/CEO President Obama’s budget proposal provides a clear and dramatic contrast with the GOP Budget plan introduced by Rep. Paul Ryan. Under the GOP plan, America’s retirees would go back in time to the day before Medicare was enacted and over one-half of the senior population had no health care coverage at all.  President Obama vowed he would not allow the dismantling of Medicare and the shifting of healthcare costs to seniors proposed in the GOP plan. President Obama also acknowledged a basic truth, too often ignored in Washington these days, that Social Security has not caused the current deficit crisis. This fact is exactly why the National Committee, representing millions of members and supporters nationwide, believe Social Security has no place in this deficit reduction debate.  “As always, the devil’s in the details being hammered out behind closed doors but America’s seniors should celebrate the fact that there is a budget proposal on the table that better represents the real world our retirees are living in.  We will continue to urge Congress to reject any proposals which limit seniors’ access to care in Medicare or propose Social Security benefit cuts in the name of deficit reduction. Our work is far from over but at least now fairness for America’s seniors and their families is brought back into the debate.” 

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Medicare and the Affordable Care Act: Keep Moving Forward

Barbara B. Kennelly
NCPSSM President/CEO
When the Affordable Care Act became law last March, critics predicted doom for the seniors and people with disabilities who rely on Medicare. They said that coverage would disappear, benefits would be cut, and death panels were on their way – none of which was true. But these lies scared many seniors about the law before it was explained to them.   Now, one year later, as the implementation of the law moves forward, Medicare is still sound – it’s stronger than it was before the law was passed – and millions of people with Medicare are benefitting from the law.   Medicare has gotten serious about cracking down on waste, fraud, and abuse. Last year, the Obama administration announced it had recovered $4 billion in Medicare fraud. And the Affordable Care Act provides tools to crack down even further.   The Affordable Care Act specifically says that Medicare’s guaranteed benefits – hospital care, doctors’ services, home health services, drug coverage, and more – are protected.  Benefits are as good as ever – better, in fact. Prescription drugs are more affordable. This year the nearly 4 million beneficiaries who fall into the prescription drug “doughnut hole” will receive discounts on their drugs. These discounts will increase over the next few years until the doughnut hole is closed.   The Affordable Care Act encourages beneficiaries to get the care they need before they get sick. Now, the more than 44 million people with Medicare can get an annual wellness visit or needed screenings for diabetes or cancers without having to pay a co-pay. Early detection and treatment not only saves money but it saves lives.      The new law ends Medicare overpayments to insurance companies and rewards those that provide high quality care. But as these changes are phasing in starting this year, beneficiaries still have a wide range of plans to choose from.   States have new options to let seniors and people with disabilities stay in their homes rather than having to move to a nursing home when they need help. And in the coming years, thanks to the new law, Medicare will lead the way to better coordinated patient care that should improve the quality of care while reducing costs.   But there is a threat out there. The new leadership of the House of Representatives has dedicated itself to repealing the Affordable Care Act. This would undo all of these improvements. Fraud-fighting tools, coverage in the doughnut hole, free preventive care, better coordinated care, and the chance to stay in your own home would all be gone.   Even worse is their alternative. Some proposals call for increasing out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries – something the Affordable Care Act does not do. Representative Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, has a more detailed plan he calls a “roadmap.” He calls for jaw-dropping cuts to the program, including raising the eligibility age to 69, slashing Medicare over time by 76 percent, and replacing the program with a cash voucher that would shift most of the cost of health care to individuals. This plan would be devastating both to current beneficiaries and to today’s working families who are counting on the Medicare program they pay into to protect them from unaffordable health care costs when they retire.   Representative Ryan leads the House committee responsible for producing a budget. But his roadmap leads us backwards to a period when our most vulnerable were forced to choose between health care costs and other necessities like food and shelter. We reject this vision, and we hope Congress does too. A year ago, we passed the Affordable Care Act to strengthen and improve Medicare for current and future generations. Let’s keep moving forward on that path.

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Live Chat on Health Reform and Seniors

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Assistant Secretary for the Administration on Aging Kathy Greenlee will host a webchat tomorrow, Thursday, April 8, to talk about health reform and its impact on America's seniors.  From the HHS news release:

Sebelius and Greenlee will highlight some of the immediate benefits of health reform for America's seniors before answering pre-submitted questions from the public. Members of the public are encouraged to submit questions via email to HealthReform@hhs.gov. HHS officials will try to answer as many questions as possible during the web chat and post questions and answers on the web site as well.  The chat is the second in a series of discussions that is designed to help Americans understand the benefits of the newly passed health insurance reform law.  WHEN: Thursday April 8, 2010 at 1:00 p.m. EDT  WHERE: www.HealthReform.gov For more information on the new health reform law please visit www.healthreform.gov 
We encourage everyone to take a few minutes to get the details on health care reform straight from those who will implement the policy.  Ask questions and engage!  Need some more background? Try these National Committee analyses:  Seniors and Health Care Reform: Separating Truth from Fiction How Reform Will Strengthen Medicare and Expand Benefits for Seniors Medicare Advantage Provisions In Health Care Reform Legislation Closing the Donut Hole and Other Improvements To Medicare Part D Drug Coverage

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What's Next on Health Care Reform?

The Senate is expected to wrap up it's health care debate tomorrow morning and then it's off to conference committee. Some lawmakers, particularly those who feel too much has been given away in the Senate health care bill, hope there might be changes in the conference version of the health care bill. That certainly doesn't appear likely. Our President/CEO, Barbara Kennelly, was among many interviewed in this good summary by McClatchy Newspapers. The Associated Press also has a detailed description of the differences between the House and Senate bills as they go into conference. Lastly, just for fun we recommend Politifact's Lie of the Year post.  Drum roll please.... It's Sarah Palin's continuing lie about death panels.  And given the year we've had...that's one heck of an accomplishment.

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