Category Archives: Money

“Why Big Medicare and Medicaid Cuts Are Likely | Tax reform will lead to ‘entitlement reform,’ this expert says” – next avenue

by Bob Blancato

“The widely expected passage of the tax reform bill will almost undoubtedly cause significant harm to Medicare. And provocative statements by President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan declaring that ‘entitlement reform’ will be next threatens Medicaid. Put these two together and, I think, one thing is clear: big Medicare and Medicaid cuts are coming.

“’We’re going to have to get back next year at entitlement reform, which is how you tackle the debt and the deficit, Ryan said in a radio interview last week. And, he said, “I think the president is understanding choice and competition works everywhere, especially in Medicare.’ Last month, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) said: ‘We have to do two things. We have to generate economic growth which generates revenue, while reducing spending. That will mean instituting structural changes to Social Security and Medicare for the future.'”

Click here to read this next avenue article in its entirety.

OPINION: “‘It’s the Grandparents Stealing From the Grandchildren'” – The Atlantic

There’s a fiction at the heart of the debate over entitlements: The carefully cultivated impression that beneficiaries are simply receiving back their ‘own’ money.”

gparents stealingby Eric Schnurer

“One day in 1984, Kurt Vonnegut called.

“I was ditching my law school classes to work on the presidential campaign of Walter Mondale, the Democratic candidate against Ronald Reagan, when one of those formerly-ubiquitous pink telephone messages was delivered to me saying that Vonnegut had called, asking to speak to one of Mondale’s speechwriters.

“All sorts of people called to talk to the speechwriters with all sorts of whacky suggestions; this certainly had to be the most interesting. I stared at the 212 phone number on the pink slip, picked up a phone, and dialed.

“A voice, so gravelly and deep that it seemed to lie at the outer edge of the human auditory range, rasped, ‘Hello.’ I introduced myself. There was a short pause, as if Vonnegut were fixing his gaze on me from the other end of the line, then he spoke.

“It’s the grandparents stealing from the grandchildren.”

Click here to continue reading this provocative and controversial opinion piece at The Atlantic.

“How bankers and doctors can collaborate to detect ‘early warnings’ of Alzheimer’s” – STAT

Close-up woman standing and holding the wallet empty of moneyAPStock

by Jason Karlawish

Banking and medicine have little in common. One is for creating and managing wealth, the other for managing health. Yet together they could help detect and fight the growing burden of Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. I call this partnership of banking and medicine whealthcare.

“Thanks to decades-long advances in personal and public health, the average 65-year-old American can expect to live another 19 years. This remarkable progress presents a challenge: Many people might not have enough money to live that long.

“The monthly pension check has gone the way of the electric typewriter and calculator. Retirement funds, if we have any — half of American families have saved less than $5,000 for retirement — are ours to manage, and we really need that cash to pay for our living expenses and most of our long-term care. Aging Americans are also taking on more debt, such as their children’s and grandchildren’s student loans.”

Keep reading this article at STATnews, click here.

“What’s the Medicare Part B premium in 2018?” – Just Care

medicare upby Diane Archer

“The 2018 standard monthly Medicare Part B premium, which covers medical and outpatient care, remains at $134.00, the same as in 2017, for people with incomes of $85,000 or less. But, only about three in ten people with Medicare have been paying that standard premium. Now, millions of other people who have been paying a lower monthly Medicare Part B premium will see a large increase in their premium because their Social Security benefits are increasing 2 percent.

“If you are among the 70 percent or so of people with Medicare who has been paying a premium of $109 (far lower than the standard premium), you may see a $25 a month Medicare premium increase to $134.”
Click here to continue reading this article in its entirety at Just Care.

National Council on Aging: “Massive budget deficit increase threatens senior programs”

tax-reform

“How Tax Reform Proposals Would Impact America’s Older Adults

“Tax reform is speeding through Congress, and the rapid pace means few people understand what’s in the latest proposals and how they would be affected.

“The legislation, totaling more than $5 trillion over 10 years, has tremendous implications for our nation. Yet, the House passed its bill just two weeks after it was introduced, without a single hearing.

“Below is our effort to provide the most reliable, factual information available about how current versions of the tax proposals would affect older Americans.”

Keep reading this article to find out more about senior programs being threatened by the hastily constructed tax bill.

Pennsylvania Launches Website to Help Seniors and People with Disabilities Find Services Near Home

Harrisburg, PA – Yesterday, Governor Tom Wolf announced the launch of the Pennsylvania Link to Community Care website, which connects older Pennsylvanians and individuals with a disability or behavioral health need to services and support available in their community.The Pennsylvania Link to Community Care website provides users with a wide variety of resources including a home care directory and an information referral tool.

“We have been working hard to help individuals with a disability and older Pennsylvanians to live where and how they choose, just as any of us would want,” Governor Wolf said. “This new website is a tremendous tool to help you or your loved one make the best and most informed decision about care and services.”

The website is a collaboration between the departments of Aging (PDA) and Human Services (DHS), and serves as an extension of PDA’s Aging and Disability Resource call center. With this online resource the commonwealth is adding to its continuing efforts to help Pennsylvanians locate and get the best use of services at the local level.

“Our capacity to link seniors and their families with community resources is critical to helping them live and age well at home,” said Secretary of Aging Teresa Osborne. “Today’s launch empowers older Pennsylvanians and their caregivers to proactively explore the service options that are available to them as they seek to remain independent and age in place.”

The site features 12 service and support categories, including Advocacy, Behavioral Health, Employment, Finance, Health Care, Housing, In-Home Services, Legal, Meals, Protection from Abuse, Support Groups, and Transportation.

Users can find information about organizations, services, and programs within these categories. One major component to the site is its home care directory, which connects individuals to in-home services available in their county. More than 350 in-home service providers appearing on the searchable directory may offer personal care, assistance with activities of daily living, companionship services, respite care, and/or habilitation services.

“We are committed to serving Pennsylvanians where they want to be – in their homes and communities,” said DHS Acting Secretary Teresa Miller. “This website is a great resource to connect an individual to the services they need to provide a choice in where they live.”

Following the launch of Pennsylvania Link to Community Care, the departments of Aging and Human Services will continue to enhance the website using data and feedback from users, and expand the resources and information provided throughout the site. If you are a provider licensed by the Pennsylvania Department of Health, and would like to appear on the home care directory, you may submit your information by navigating to the footer of the site and clicking on “Apply.”

To learn more about the Pennsylvania Link to Community Care website, or to find information on resources available in your county, visit www.carelink.pa.gov.

Social Security Announces 2.0 Percent Benefit Increase for 2018

Monthly Social Security and Supplemental Security Income (SSI) benefits for more than 66 million Americans will increase 2.0 percent in 2018, the Social Security Administration announced recently.

The 2.0 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) will begin with benefits payable to more than 61 million Social Security beneficiaries in January 2018. Increased payments to more than 8 million SSI beneficiaries will begin on December 29, 2017. (Note: some people receive both Social Security and SSI benefits) The Social Security Act ties the annual COLA to the increase in the Consumer Price Index as determined by the Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Some other adjustments that take effect in January of each year are based on the increase in average wages. Based on that increase, the maximum amount of earnings subject to the Social Security tax (taxable maximum) will increase to $128,700 from $127,200. Of the estimated 175 million workers who will pay Social Security taxes in 2018, about 12 million will pay more because of the increase in the taxable maximum.

Information about Medicare changes for 2018, when announced, will be available at www.medicare.gov.

The Social Security Act provides for how the COLA is calculated. To read more, please visit www.socialsecurity.gov/cola.

Here is a fact sheet showing the effect of the various automatic adjustments.

“Drug Companies Make Eyedrops Too Big — And You Pay for the Waste” – ProPublica

“The makers of cancer drugs also make vials with too much medication for many patients. The excess drugs are tossed in the trash — another reason health care costs are so high.”

eyedrops-waste-3x2Gregory Matthews, who is partially blind because of glaucoma, uses eyedrops every day to preserve his remaining sight. (Matt Roth for ProPublica)

by Marshall Allen

“If you’ve ever put in an eyedrop, some of it has almost certainly spilled onto your eyelid or cheek.

“The good news is the mess doesn’t necessarily mean you missed. The bad news is that medicine you wiped off your face is wasted by design — and it’s well-known to the drug companies that make the drops.

“Eyedrops overflow our eyes because drug companies make the typical drop — from pricey glaucoma drugs to a cheap bottle of Visine — larger than a human eye can hold. Some are so large that if they were pills, every time you swallowed one, you’d toss another in the garbage.

“The waste frustrates glaucoma experts like Dr. Alan Robin, whose patients struggle to make pricey bottles of drops last. He has urged drug companies to move to smaller drops — to no avail.”

Click here to read this ProPublica article in its entirety.

 

 

“The Ethics of Adjusting Your Assets to Qualify for Medicaid” – a column at The New York Times

medicaid

Credit Robert Neubecker for The New York Times

by Ron Lieber

“At any given moment, there is a large group of citizens who want nothing more than to make absolutely certain that they are impoverished enough to qualify for Medicaid sooner rather than later. Someday, you might be one of them.

“Welcome to the (perfectly legal) world of Medicaid planning, the plain-vanilla term for the mini-industry of lawyers and others who help people arrange their financial lives so they don’t spend every last dime on a nursing home. Once properly impoverished under the law, then Medicaid, which gets funding both from your state and the federal government, picks up the tab.

“Whatever twists and turns the health insurance debates in Washington take, Medicaid will be at the center, and the program will probably affect you and your family more than you know. After all, if you run out of money in retirement, it is Medicaid that pays for most of your nursing home or home-based care.”

Click here to continue reading this column at The New York Times.

“How we put a price tag on hospitals | The data science that’s helping us crack the code of hospital cost variation.” – Amino

by Sameera Poduri

price on hospitals

“Economists and consumers alike have often observed (and suffered from) extreme cost variation in healthcare, not only based on the service itself and the doctor who performed it, but also determined by the facility where it was performed. Hospitals in particular are known to charge wildly different prices for similar care, and we’ve had little insight into why or how.

“Our first step toward uncovering healthcare costs led us to physician level cost estimates for more than 100 procedures, searchable by the doctor one might choose to perform that procedure. Such granularity can help people stay in network, calculate their out-of-pocket costs ahead of time, and budget for a procedure.

“Today, we’re excited to announce that we’ve put a dollar sign on 45,000 facility-insurer combinations across the country—including hospitals, imaging centers, and urgent care centers—so that people can not only understand the total cost of a procedure, but also know where it might be cheaper (and of the same or better quality) nearby.”

Click here to read this article at amino.com in its entirety.