What’s New in Health Care Reform? Seniors, your check is in the mail
Seniors: Your check is in the mail and the donut hole will be completely closed by 2020.
“Medicare isn’t just something you’re entitled to when you reach 65, it’s something that you’ve earned. It’s a sacred and inviolable trust between you and your country.” – President Obama, June 8, 2010
With mid-terms looming and confusion about health care reform still a problem, the administration is looking to clear things up, especially for seniors. Some of the strongest opposition to health care reform comes from seniors who are frightened by misinformation about death panels.
On Tuesday, June 8, The White House launched a national campaign to combat fraud and misinformation and deliver the facts to seniors regarding Medicare and the Patient Affordable Care Act.
In a national tele-town hall meeting from Wheaton, Maryland, President Obama answered questions directly from concerned seniors around the country. More than 100 such events were held across the country and were also attended by administration officials.
The campaign includes steps designed to protect seniors by making sure they have clear and accurate information about the new laws and stronger tools to fight fraud and abuse in the Medicare program.
So what benefits can seniors expect? *
- A one-time, tax free $250 rebate check for seniors who hit the prescription drug “donut hole” who are not already receiving Medicare Extra Help. These checks will begin mailing on June 10 and will continue monthly throughout the year as beneficiaries enter the coverage gap.
- Free preventive care services like colorectal cancer screening and mammograms and a free annual wellness visit.
- Community health teams will provide patient-centered care so seniors won’t have to see multiple doctors who don’t work together. The new law also helps seniors who are hospitalized return home successfully—and avoid going back—by helping to coordinate care and ensure they have access to support in their community.
- Medicare pays Medicare Advantage insurance companies over $1,000 more per person on average than traditional Medicare. These additional payments are paid for in part by increased premiums for all Medicare beneficiaries—including the 77% of seniors not enrolled in a Medicare Advantage plan. The new law levels the playing field by gradually eliminating Medicare Advantage overpayments to insurance companies while protecting guaranteed Medicare benefits. Instead of overpayments similar to the last several years to insurance companies, the new law will base payments on the local cost of providing guaranteed Medicare services. Medicare Advantage plans will also receive new bonus payments based on performance (e.g., for providing care based on preventing diseases before they start, and care that stops diseases from getting worse). Participating health plans will also be prohibited from charging higher out-of-pocket costs to seniors than traditional Medicare for similar services.
- Over the next 20 years, Medicare spending will grow at a slower rate, as a result of eliminating waste, fraud, and abuse. This will extend the life of the Medicare Trust Fund by 12 years and provide cost savings to Medicare beneficiaries. In 2018, seniors can expect to save, on average, almost $200 per year in premiums and over $200 per year in co-insurance compared to what they would have paid without the Affordable Care Act. Upper-income beneficiaries ($85,000 of annual income for individuals or $170,000 for married couples filing jointly) will pay higher premiums. This will impact about 2% of Medicare beneficiaries.
- The President has directed HHS to cut the improper payment rate, which tracks fraud, waste and abuse in the Medicare Fee for Services program, in half by 2012.
- The Administration has helped support a renewed partnership between the federal government and state Attorneys General. Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder today sent a letter to state Attorneys General urging them to vigorously prosecute criminals who seek to steal from seniors and taxpayers and pledged the support of federal officials for state efforts.
- A nationwide series of anti-fraud summits hosted by the Departments of Justice and Health and Human Services will bring federal, state and local officials together with representatives from the private sector to discuss tactics to fight fraud. The first summit will be held in Miami with additional summits in Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Detroit, Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.
Meanwhile, Republicans across the country are running on a “repeal health care” platform.
* Bullet Points from White House press release