Month: April 2011

Independent political groups hit airwaves over Medicare spending

Independent political groups hit airwaves over Medicare spending by Melanie Mason and Tom Hamburger, LA Times

The battle over the future of Medicare and the federal budget has been joined unusually early by independent political groups, providing an indication of the large role they are likely to play in the 2012 campaign and beyond.

Read more: http://www.latimes.com/health/sc-dc-0429-politics-ad-wars-20110429,0,4389702.story

In Florida, H.M.O.’s Would Treat Medicaid Patients

In Florida, H.M.O.’s Would Treat Medicaid Patients by Lizette Alvarez, The New York Times

DAVIE, Fla. — A crucial experiment in the future of Medicaid is playing out in Florida, where both houses of the Legislature are vying to find ways to drastically cut costs, manage care and reduce waste and fraud.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/28/health/policy/28medicaid.html?_r=3&emc=tnt&tntemail0=y

Few Seniors Support GOP Plan To Restructure Medicare

Few Seniors Support GOP Plan To Restructure Medicare by Phil Galewitz, Kaiser Health News

Senior citizens, whose fierce opposition to the 2010 health overhaul law helped propel Republicans’ midterm election gains, have little appetite for the House GOP’s plans to turn Medicare into a voucher-type program that sends beneficiaries to private plans but limits the amount of federal funding, according to a poll released today.

Read more: http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2011/April/27/kaiser-poll-on-Medicare.aspx

 

 

John Boehner says he’s not ‘wedded to’ Paul Ryan plan

John Boehner says he’s not ‘wedded to’ Paul Ryan plan by David Nather, Politico

So maybe it wasn’t the best timing in the world: Even as House Republicans face tough questions at their town hall meetings about Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, Speaker John Boehner has given an interview in which he said Ryan’s plan was an idea “worthy of consideration” and that he wasn’t “wedded to it.”

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0411/53756.html#ixzz1KjWC3GoK

Medicare Patients Aren’t Taking Advantage Of Some Newly Free Tests

Medicare Patients Aren’t Taking Advantage Of Some Newly Free Tests by Susan Jaffe, Kaiser Health News

Despite tough economic times, there are some things the government can’t give away.

Starting this year, seniors enrolled in Medicare no longer have to pay for more than a dozen tests and other services to help prevent or control cancer and other costly and debilitating diseases. These benefits, which also include an annual wellness exam, are part of the new federal health-care law.

 

Read more: http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2011/April/26/Jaffe-Medicare-Free-Prevention.aspx

Justices Reject Request for Fast Health Law Ruling

Justices Reject Request for Fast Health Law Ruling by Adam Liptak, The New York Times

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Monday turned back an unusual request from Virginia to put the state’s challenge to the new federal health care law on a fast track. The court’s one-line order offered no reasoning, and there were no noted dissenting votes.

Read more: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/26/us/politics/26scotus.html?_r=2&scp=1&sq=health%20law&st=cse

 

Under Health Law, Colonoscopies Are Free — But It Doesn’t Always Work That Way

Under Health Law, Colonoscopies Are Free – But It Doesn’t Always Work That Way by Harris Meyer, Kaiser Health News

For years, doctors have urged patients over the age of 50 to get colonoscopies to check for colorectal cancer, which kills 50,000 Americans a year. Their efforts were boosted last year by the federal health care law, which requires that key preventive services, including colonoscopies, be provided to patients at no out-of-pocket cost.

Read more: http://www.kaiserhealthnews.org/Stories/2011/April/20/health-law-colonoscopy.aspx

 

 

Republicans facing tough questions over Medicare overhaul in budget plan

Republicans facing tough questions over Medicare overhaul in budget plan by Peter Wallsten, The Washington Post

Anxiety is rising among some Republicans over the party’s embrace of a plan to overhaul Medicare, with GOP lawmakers already starting to face tough questions on the issue at town hall meetings back in their districts.

Read more: http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/republicans-facing-tough-questions-over-medicare-overhaul-in-budget-plan/2011/04/22/AFjSRgRE_story.html

 

It Finally Looks Like the Politicians Are Paying Attention to Medicare, Like It or Not

While healthcare reform is now 13 months old, one might have been misled into believing the country had solved the health care crisis. Sure, many more Americans will have access to affordable healthcare insurance. Health care reform, or health care insurance reform as many call it, is a big step forward for so many Americans who have been denied access to the health care system for a whole host of reasons.

It, almost, does not matter that many of the key provisions do not kick in for several years. We heard about some of the quick “wins” now in effect. Children under age 26 are allowed to stay on their parents insurance (in most cases); lifetime caps on insurance coverage have been removed; Medicare beneficiaries have seen the donut whole start to close and get some “free” preventative services. I could list many more but that is not the point.

A significant proposal was introduced for controlling the skyrocketing costs of Medicare, an increasingly difficult financial burden for the federal government. The House Budget Committee Chairman, Paul Ryan, a Republican, presented a comprehensive budget proposal that includes a plan to privatize Medicare. Representative Ryan believes his plan will save the federal government billions of dollars annually and prevent insolvency of the Medicare program. 

It is important to understand Medicare is, generally speaking, supported by health care taxes (paid by us), premiums paid by beneficiaries for certain components of the program (physicians and drugs), and by general funds from the federal budget (income taxes paid by us). This plan assumes the private sector will do a better job reigning in the skyrocketing costs of Medicare than the federal government can do on its own. The sad truth is Representative Ryan may be right but I hope he’s wrong. 

I am a supporter of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. I have made no secret in telling people the current system is severely broken and on a path to financial ruin. I have also said the health care reform law is flawed and does not go far enough in addressing the skyrocketing costs of providing health care to Medicare beneficiaries and all Americans. We are faced with some very simple facts:

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