Petition Urges Supercommittee to Protect Medicare
This week, Medicare Rights Center delivered a petition to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also known as the supercommittee, asking policymakers to protect Medicare and prevent cuts that would shift additional costs to the people the program serves or limit access to benefits and services. Nearly 20,000 people signed the petition in less than two weeks, including individuals from every state in the country. As the petition and cover letter from Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker states, people with Medicare, half of whom have incomes below $22,000 per year, are in a poor position to pay more, and use care because they need it; nearly half of people with Medicare suffer from three or more chronic conditions.
Ranking members on committees in the House of Representatives also officially weighed in this week on the task facing the supercommitte. Under the Budget Control Act of 2011, which created the supercommittee process, standing committees in Congress may submit recommendations to the supercommittee by October 15, 2011. Today, ranking members on the committees with jurisdiction over the Medicare program, Representatives Henry Waxman and Sander Levin, who serve on the Energy and Commerce and Ways and Means committees respectively, submitted letters to the supercommittee chairs. Both recommended that deficit reduction be achieved through a balanced approach that includes increased revenues, and cautioned against policies that save the federal government money by shifting costs to people with Medicare.
Read Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker’s letter to the supercommittee.
Read the preserve Medicare petition.
Read Ranking Member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce Representative Henry Waxman’s recommendations to the supercommitee.
Read Ranking Member of the Committee on Ways and Means Representative Sander Levin’s recommendations to the supercommitee.
Medicare Fall Open Enrollment Period Starts, Ends Earlier This Year
This Saturday, October 15, marks the beginning of the Medicare Fall Open Enrollment Period, which will run through December 7. This year the enrollment period starts and ends earlier than in previous years. During Fall Open Enrollment, people with Medicare can make changes to their prescription drug and health coverage options without restriction. They can make as many changes as they need, and the last change they make will take effect on January 1.
The Medicare Rights Center issued a release today containing tried-and-true advice for beneficiaries, as well as information about Medicare changes. People with Medicare are urged to consider all of their options, including Original Medicare—with or without a stand-alone prescription drug plan—and a Medicare Advantage plan—also known as a Medicare private health plan—many of which include prescription drug coverage. Medicare Rights Center president Joe Baker offered the following words of caution: “Medicare beneficiaries need to be aware of the date change this year, and carefully review all of their options in time to make a decision by December 7. While reviewing your options, you may be attracted to low-cost drug plans or Medicare Advantage plans, but it is very important to read the fine print. Depending on your health status and the plan’s rules and restrictions, you may discover that the low-cost plan will actually cost you more than a plan with a higher premium.”
The change in dates, a result of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), has been praised by advocates as more convenient for beneficiaries because in the past Fall Open Enrollment took place during the busy holiday season. Furthermore, the earlier end date will allow more time for plan changes to be finalized by January 1. Also due to the ACA, the doughnut hole will continue to be phased out this year. Beneficiaries who reach the doughnut hole in 2012 will once again receive a 50 percent discount on brand-name drugs, while the discount for generic drugs will rise to 14 percent. Finally, starting in 2012, Medicare Advantage plans will not be able to charge enrollees for preventive care services that are free for people with Original Medicare, and all Medicare beneficiaries will have a Special Enrollment Period (SEP) to enroll in a Medicare Advantage or Part D plan with a five-star rating (on a scale of one to five). The SEP can be used at any time during the year, but only once per year, and to make only one change.
Read the Medicare Rights Center’s release about Fall Open Enrollment.
Read a release about Fall Open Enrollment from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
A coalition of national organizations that advocate for Medicare and Medicaid are holding national call-in days this week on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (October 12-14) to urge members of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction—commonly known as the supercommittee—to reject proposals that would cut Medicaid and Medicare and shift costs to beneficiaries.
Call the toll-free number 866-922-4970 to be connected to the U.S. Capitol switchboard and share your concerns about Medicare and Medicaid cuts with your member of Congress.