A Call to Action as Supercommittee’s Deadline Approaches
Next Wednesday, November 23, marks the deadline for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction—also known as the supercommittee—to agree on a package of deficit-reduction proposals to send to Congress. Medicare and Medicaid are under serious threat, with many plans including proposals that would increase out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries. As time is running short, we must make clear that we cannot balance the budget on the backs of older Americans and people with disabilities. Below is a sample message—either as is or personalized by you—you can deliver as a letter, phone call or e-mail to your representatives and senators, and to the members of the supercommittee. Now is the time to take action to protect Medicare and preserve it for current and future generations.
As the deadline fast approaches for the supercommittee to agree on a deficit-reduction package, I urge you to preserve Medicare and protect the people and families that rely on the program for life-saving care.
People with Medicare are in a poor position to pay more for care, and they use care because they need it. Half of people with Medicare have incomes below $22,000 per year, and nearly half have three or more chronic conditions.
Furthermore, proposals that shift costs to people with Medicare or discourage them from getting care do nothing to address the root cause of Medicare spending, which is growing costs in the health care sector overall for all Americans.
We must not cut benefits or raise costs for people with Medicare. We must preserve the promise we've made as a nation: that older Americans and people with disabilities have a right to access high-quality, affordable health care and live with dignity.
After you take action, tell a friend or family member to take action. We can all work together to protect Medicare and Medicaid.
Send your letter to the members of the supercommittee.
Send a message to your senators. (Click here to find you senators’ names and contact information.)
Send a message to your representative. (Click here to find your representative’s name and contact information.)
Congress Must Take Action to Help People With Medicare Maintain Access to Benefits
Congress must take action by the end of this year to extend important Medicare programs and prevent a large cut in Medicare physician payments. Specifically, Congress must re-authorize the Qualifying Individual (QI) benefit. QI assists Medicare beneficiaries with incomes between 120 and 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) pay their Part B premiums, and can potentially save eligible individuals thousands of dollars per year. Medicare Rights Center, along with partners in Florida, Kansas, Maine and Wisconsin, has sent a letter encouraging policymakers to prevent the discontinuation of the QI program, which must be reauthorized annually.
In addition to the letter on QI, Medicare Rights Center, as a member of the Leadership Council of Aging Organizations (LCAO), sent a letter to Congressional leaders not only urging them to take action to continue the QI program, but also to avert a pending cut of nearly 30 percent to Medicare physician payments and to extend the Medicare therapy caps exceptions process. The pending Medicare physician cut is the result of the Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) formula, enacted in 1997. Many fear that if Congress does not vote to prevent the cuts from taking place, as has historically been the case, Medicare beneficiaries may have difficulty finding doctors who accept Medicare. Also set to expire at the end of this year is the Medicare therapy caps exceptions process. Medicare coverage for speech, physical therapy and occupational therapy services is capped, but currently the exceptions process allows those who require medically necessary services to exceed those caps.
Read the letter on extending the QI program.
Read the letter on preventing cuts to Medicare physicians and extending other Medicare programs.
Medicare Part B covers 100 percent of the cost of a flu shot once every flu season with no Part B deductible required. This is true for both Original Medicare and Medicare Advantage plans (private health plans).
Original Medicare will pay for the flu shot no matter where you get it, as long as the health care provider is enrolled in Medicare. You will pay no copay or deductible if you see a doctor or other health care provider who takes assignment. If you receive your Medicare benefits from a private plan, the plan cannot require that you get a referral for the vaccine, but it can require that you use providers in the plan’s network. You should call your plan to find out what rules apply.
Learn more about Medicare coverage of flu shots at www.medicareinteractive.org.
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), more than 2.2 million Medicare beneficiaries have saved more than $1.2 billion on prescription drugs in 2011, according to new data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). The ACA phases out the Medicare Part D coverage gap, also known as the doughnut hole, and makes a variety of preventive services free for Medicare patients. More than 22 million people with Medicare have taken advantage of at least one of these preventive services this year.
Read CMS’s release.