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

Photo: HealthReform.gov


Wendy Watson
Wendy Watson6 years ago

I appreciate a lot of your comments.. The Government is blunt that they do not care for the unhealthy. Most of the time they make me feel that I am not wanted in this country and I know many other disabled and elders that feel the same way.
I am not a senior but my body is. I am very ill and this does not just apply to the seniors but also to us that are truely disabled I take 15 meds per month, some up to 3 or 4 times a day, some I need or my body will stop functioning and I will die, I have a virus in my central nerve system, a very rare syndrom, if I do not take this mediactions I get meningitis or other viruses that can kill me.
I was paying 2.50 per script and 17.00 to Blue Cross per month. Jan 1 I started paying 7.00 per script and 58.00 to Blue Cross.
They also stopped paying for some scripts because they want you to take a newer ones with more side affects and higher costs. I have found that it is less expensive to not use my medicare part d for some scripts. I still can not afford to buy all my scripts per month.Sometimes I go with out my blood pressure med oranother, I switch off. I also am not eating much half way through the month. Or healthy enough for my high Cholesterol Problems. I can or will not take meds because I would probably die because I have muscle problems. I live on PB&J until I run out of crackers. Then whatever, at least I am getting thinner. Lol.
Preventative med is a joke. There are easy blood test to find if you have a disease throug

Janice P.
Janice P7 years ago

I could write a treatise on this issue, which would take up pages and pages, but let me just say just this. $250 for patients who have reached the "donut hole"? Are they kidding? For many medications, that will not even reimburse the person for a one-month supply of many, many medications. When my father was still alive, he was prescribed a medication, which cost $1,200/mo. He had a fabulous plan, which paid all but $4.00 of that. How many others do? For those people, what will that $250 buy? It is worse than a drop in the bucket. The danged bucket has a hole in it. Of course, there's no money for seniors. The financial institutions have it all, don't they?

c. g.
C. G7 years ago

noted and thanks

Brenda Marie C. C.

Great news. I must have been on mars from around 2000 until 2008 when my health insurance went up from around twenty -five dollars and some to about two hundred dollars a month.
Oh yes I was a healthy senior and all of a sudden i found myself being placed in an ambulance and admitted to a hospital for seven days, maybe it was then when my health insurance sky rocketed and the present president was not yet thought of. Lisen up or loosen up America if we can live through that madness for eight yrs. we can surely trust someone that has holes in the bottom of his shoes, and was not born with a siver spoon in his mouth. I am glad someone or something has put the breaks on the rising cost of my health care premeiums. They did not just start to going up, they have been running up every year at open enrollment 2002
I was one of those who felt the pinch first.
It appears to me the way things are looking with air, water & sea pollution,and food that refuses to rot in the refrig, we might think it to be wise to ask someone to put a clause to help us get off the planet.
Lets Just stop it you know quite well noboby is going put us old people to sleep because they know we have the check book and hold a large voting block.
Interesting and very informative. I wrote down the site for more information for future knowledge of health care insurance. Thanks.
I just can't believe seniors are that stupid to believe that there is a clause for a visit from JACK -.

Andrea M.
Andrea M7 years ago

Very depressing. Makes me wonder where the money is going---the money that I've been paying into Social Security for all of my working life! Thanks for the article!

Skip C.
Skip C7 years ago

I believe that the wisdom and valuable life lessons we all can gain from our elders is something upon which no price can be set. The "spin merchants" all talk about the "hundreds of thousands" that continuing to provide medical care for an elder to preserve their life for a while longer is "wasteful." So, I ask you all, if it is your grandparent or senior parent - is money the issue? Would you rather have these loved-ones, full of life's memories, wisdoms and lessons to leave as a legacy be denied just a few more months - to "save" a few bucks?

If so, I opine that anyone who subscribes to such a crass, money-focused approach lacks not only moral fortitude, but also a weakness of the soul.

Skip C.
Skip C7 years ago

QUOTE: “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

He is correct: Medicare INSURANCE is not only "something I earned," but also, and more importantly, a medical coverage plan FOR WHICH I HAVE PAID as an uncapped TAX on my earnings since 1970! The "Patient Protection & Affordable Care" law establishes ever decreasing care coverage, while increasing the premiums I will have to pay. It introduces a "panel of review" to determine whether the value of continuing my life (through medical technology) is less than the cost to provide care. If cost of care is determined to exceed the perceived value of continuing my life - care payment will be denied! Those of you on this forum who fantastically believe that the approach to "universal" (socialized) health plans as is now the law-of-the-land are either too young to understand all the negative aspects, too partisan to evaluate the law objectively and/or too "busy" to have even invested the time to read and understand the provisions of this law.

Blindly accepting "spin" is tantamount to acknowledging one's own stupidity. Inform yourselves; seek counsel when understanding is weak; look at all sides - then decide. I have. I am approaching 65 - in 5 months it will be a reality. Believe me, I do not want this so-called "Patient Protection and

c. g.
C. G7 years ago

thank and it is good to know.

Lucy Miranda
Lucy Miranda7 years ago

So far the only thing that have affected me is that in anticipation to what was coming with the new Health reforms regulations my health insurance plan increase my monthly payment. I am a healthy senior who saw my primary doctor only once this year, and take only one medication. But I am still paying a high premium just in case I get sick. I am worry that is going to increase more. At this point I do not see any benefit for me in the event that I need it more medical care. Just in case I am doing every possible to stay healthy by being active, doing exercise and eating well. I change my eating habits from my younger years.

Linda Mills
Linda Mills7 years ago