Medicare Rights Urges Congress to Protect Americans with Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security
This week, the Medicare Rights Center sent letters to President Obama and Congress urging them to protect Americans with Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. These programs remain vulnerable to cuts as Congress and the White House move closer to a deficit reduction deal. In fact, recent news reports suggest a potential $400 billion in spending cuts to Medicare and Medicaid. The letters from Medicare Rights encourage the President and Congress to support reasonable solutions to control health care spending and drive down high health care prices, namely prices for prescription medications and medical equipment.
Cuts to Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security benefits would be harmful to the economic and health security of older adults and people with disabilities. For one in three Medicare beneficiaries, Social Security benefits amount to more than 90 percent of their total income. Spending more on health care is simply not an option for many Medicare beneficiaries, half of whom live on an annual income of $22,000 or less and have less than $53,000 in personal savings. Additional costs could force people with Medicare to forgo needed health care services, leading to increased emergency room visits and, ultimately, increased health care spending in the Medicare program.
Read Medicare Rights’ letters to the President and the House and Senate leadership.
National Association of Insurance Commissioners Cautions Against Increasing Costs for Seniors With Medigap
The National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) recently sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to recommend against adding cost sharing to supplemental Medigap policies. The letter, approved unanimously by NAIC’s Senior Issues Task Force, warns Secretary Sebelius that increased cost sharing in Medigap plans could force seniors to forgo seeking medical care, thus raising Medicare costs when seniors don’t receive the medical care they need.
Medicare Rights Center, California Health Advocates, the Center for Medicare Advocacy and other consumer groups worked alongside the NAIC, state insurance regulators, insurers and trade associations to examine available evidence on cost sharing and patient behaviors. Medicare Rights Center and its allies strongly support the NAIC recommendation to prevent additional cost sharing in Medigap plans.
Read the KHN article on the NAIC decision.
Read the NAIC letter to Secretary Sebelius.
The Medicare Advantage Disenrollment Period (MADP) occurs every year from January 1 to February 14. During this time, you can switch from your Medicare private health plan, also known as a Medicare Advantage plan, to Original Medicare.
If you have a Medicare Advantage plan, you will be able to switch to Original Medicare with or without a stand-alone prescription drug plan. Changes made during this period will become effective the first of the following month. For example, if you switched from a Medicare Advantage plan to Original Medicare and a stand-alone prescription drug plan in February, your new coverage would begin March 1.
If you are enrolled in a PFFS plan with a stand-alone drug plan, you must keep your stand-alone prescription drug plan if you switch to Original Medicare during the MADP.
If you disenroll from your Medicare Advantage plan, federal law does not usually give you the right to buy a Medigap plan. The laws in your state might give you more rights. Medigap plans are supplemental polices that help pay for Original Medicare deductibles and coinsurances. You should check with your SHIP (State Health Insurance Assistance Program) to find out if and when you can enroll in a Medigap plan in your state.
If you have a Medicare Medical Savings Accounts (MSA), you cannot disenroll during the MADP.
Learn more about changing your Medicare Advantage plan at www.medicareinteractive.org
This month, Medicare Rights Center President Joe Baker was included in AARP Magazine’s list of the 50 most influential people over the age of 50 for his work helping consumers navigate the Medicare program. Mr. Baker was listed as one of eight “influentials who save us money.” Others on the list include Warren Buffett, Arianna Huffington, Hillary Clinton and Sonia Sotomayor.
Read the entire list of “50 Over 50.”
Read the list of “influentials who save us money.”