Medicare and Deficit Reduction
As Medicare remains on the table during talks about reducing the nation's deficit, our experts are closely monitoring developments that affect people with Medicare.
"Paying More For Less" Fact Sheet Series
Archived Publications on the Issues
Letters, Fact Sheets and Testimony
Joint Testimony to House Committee on Ways & Means, February 2013
Letter to the President on Deficit Reduction, December 2012
Letter to Congressional Leaders on Deficit Reduction, December 2012
Letter to Congressional Leaders on Medicare Extenders Package, November 2012
Letter to Congressional Leaders on the Need to Reform the Medicare Physician Payment Formula, November 2012
Medicare Voices: Celebrating 47 Years of Medicare, July 2012
Letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction on Proposals That Would Affect Dual Eligibles, November 2011
Letter to Congress on Raising the Medicare Eligibility Age, October 2011
Doing the Math: The Cost of Medicare, October 2011
Letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, October 2011
Deficit Reduction and Medicare: President Obama's Plan, September 2011
Medicare Voices: A Report by the Medicare Rights Center, September 2011
Letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, September 2011
Painting a Grim Picture: Deficit-Reduction Proposals that Hurt People with Medicare, September 2011
The Debt Deal and Medicare, August 2011
Letter to Congressional Leaders on the Need to Preserve Medicare and Medicaid, July 2011
Letter to Senator Rockefeller and Representative Waxman on the Medicare Drug Savings Act of 2011, June 2011
Decoding the 2012 House Budget Resolution, April 2011
Medicare and Medicaid: Essential Partners for Older Americans and People with Disabilities, April 2011
News Stories Featuring Our Experts
Medicare, Medigap cuts may make you sick
MarketWatch, May 15, 2013, by Elizabeth O'Brien
"The most comprehensive Medigap plans cover most or all of holders’ out-of-pocket costs. Beneficiaries who choose them, who are often living on fixed incomes, like the predictability of their monthly Medigap premiums versus the uncertain cost burden that a prolonged illness could bring under traditional Medicare, experts say. “You can budget for a premium, but you can’t budget for that really high hospital bill,” said Stacy Sanders, federal policy director of the Medicare Rights Center. Changes in Medigap, then, could have a big impact on the out-of-pocket costs faced by retirees." Read the article.
Looking for Medicare Savings? Look No Further Than Big Pharma
The Huffington Post, April 17, 2013, by Joe Baker
"Yesterday, 19 Senators and several ranking House members introduced the Medicare Drug Savings Act of 2013 to secure over $140 billion in Medicare savings. This straightforward bill, endorsed by over 30 of the nation's leading health and aging advocates, would restore the federal government's ability to secure more reasonable drug prices for low-income people with Medicare. Unlike some of the most discussed Medicare savings proposals, this option finds savings where there is money to be found, from a windfall the pharmaceutical industry received when Medicare Part D was created in 2006 -- not from the empty pockets of people with Medicare." Read the article.
Five Ways The President's Budget Would Change Medicare
Kaiser Health News, April 15, 2013, by Mary Agnes Carey
"Beginning in 2017, new beneficiaries who purchase supplemental insurance, known as Medigap, with particularly low cost-sharing requirements -- such as "first-dollar" coverage -- will face a surcharge equivalent to approximately 15 percent of the average Medigap premium. The thought is that more generous Medigap plans encourage overuse of services, but seniors rely on these generous plans to shield them from unanticipated costs.
Joe Baker, president of the Medicare Rights Center, said that Medicare proposals that "increase deductibles and co-pays, and tax Medigap plans that ensure financial security, must be rejected." Read the article.
Ryan plan to reinvent Medicare, in 2024
MarketWatch, March 12, 2013, by Matthew Heimer
"Those stated intentions are undoubtedly laudable, but they raise the question: If Medicare remains committed to footing the bill for the poorest and sickest, how much money will it actually save? After all according to the Medicare Rights Center, an advocacy group, “half of all people with Medicare—almost 25 million Americans—live on annual incomes of $22,000 or less." Read the article.
Three Reasons Why Medicare Cost-Shifting Is the Wrong Solution
The Huffington Post, February 22, 2013, by Joe Baker
"The president opened last week's State of the Union address calling for "modest" changes to contain Medicare costs. One of the president's primary audiences, Congress, faces a series of deadlines in the coming months, including automatic spending cuts on March 1, expiration of the federal budget patch on March 27 and the impending debt ceiling this summer. Any one of these deadlines may force decisions about Medicare's future." Read the article.
Medicare May Be Silent Killer in Budget Battles
The Fiscal Times, December 20, 2012, by Josh Boak
"From what we see, the government does have that concentrated buying power and it needs to use that in purchasing prescription drugs and durable medical devices," said Joe Baker, president of the independent Medicare Rights Center. "We're spending too much for prescription drugs in Medicare." Read the article.
What's Reasonable About a 'Sick Tax' on Medigap Coverage?
Huffington Post, December 6, 2012, by Joe Baker
Because Medigap coverage is secondary to Medicare, the only way to find federal savings through Medigap is to limit the use of health care services. Adding out-of-pocket costs to Medigap plans is designed to make people think twice about the health care they need. Limiting Medigap first dollar coverage, and other proposals that would increase cost sharing for people with Medicare, ultimately aim to force these kinds of questions: Am I really sick enough to go to the doctor? Do I really need the treatment that the doctor ordered? Should I really get that test the doctor wanted me to get? Read the blog post.
Don't Cut Medicare Benefits -- Tackle Drug Prices
Huffington Post, November 29, 2012, by Joe Baker
As the approach of the so-called "Fiscal Cliff" nears, many advocates nationwide are making this message clear: Medicare benefit cuts are not an option. Read the blog post.
Controlling Rising Health Care Costs: Medicare Is the Solution, Not the Problem
Huffington Post, November 13, 2012, by Joe Baker
We believe that Medicare proposals should be tested by two measures. First, does the plan force people with Medicare to pay more? And second, does it address the real problem -- rising health care costs overall? Despite pervasive economic insecurity among Medicare families and widespread agreement about the need to control health care spending, the most discussed Medicare proposals fail on both counts. Read the blog post.
Medicare Eligibility Age In Fiscal Cliff Negotiations Puts Older Americans In The Crosshairs
Huffington Post, November 13, 2012, by Jeffrey Young
This approach might reduce the federal budget deficit on the ledger but it doesn't actually save anyone any money, said Joe Baker, the president of the Medicare Rights Center. Older people who can get insurance will pay more, Medicaid costs will go up, and employers will bear higher medical costs for older workers who stay employed just to keep their health benefits, he said. Read the article.
VP Debate Moderator Flubs Social Security, Medicare Question
New America Media, October 13, 2012, by Paul Kleyman
Joe Baker of the Medicare Rights Center commented, "Raddatz's question feeds into fears among younger Americans that Medicare will not be there for them. It is hyperbole and it is irresponsible, partly because it reinforces much of the fear mongering that is problematic about the national dialogue related to the deficit in general and, most recently, the fiscal cliff." Read the article.
Medicare Far Better Than Ryan's Prescription
Hartford Courant, September 21, 2012, by Joe Baker and Judith A. Stein
Congressman Paul Ryan's Medicare plan has absorbed countless hours of media attention since he was announced as the Republican candidate for vice president. Mr. Ryan's candidacy has also stimulated extensive discussions about Medicare's future — a topic worthy of attention. Unfortunately, the facts and real-life experiences of the 49 million people and their families who rely on Medicare are often missing from the conversations. Read the op-ed.
Medicare Truths Elude Both Sides
The Palm Beach Post, August 24, 2012, by Laura Green
The barrage of negative Medicare ads and claims — known as Mediscare — is cranking up this presidential campaign. And yet Florida seniors trying to choose a candidate based on them will be lucky to hear a mostly true word. Both sides are distorting their opponent’s position, making it difficult for voters to make an informed choice. Read the story.
How to Trim Spending on Medicare Letters to the Editor
The New York Times, December 22, 2011, by Joe Baker
"Working With Medicare" got it mostly right — relentlessly rising costs in the health sector over all are the problem, not Medicare. But that is exactly why proposals that simply shift costs away from the federal government and onto Medicare beneficiaries, like increased cost sharing, means-tested premiums or increasing the eligibility age to 67, are ineffective and dangerous. Read the story.
Medicare Genie is Now Out of the Bottle
POLITICO, November 22, 2011, by Matt Dobias
The supercommittee failed to strike a deficit deal, but the terrain still changed for entitlement reform. And once Democrats — starting with President Barack Obama — gave ground on Medicare and other entitlements, it may be hard to take it back. Read the story.