Medicare

Tax Day Thoughts…

On tax day, we remember the saying by Oliver Wendell Holmes, that “taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society.” Today, we joined other Sacramento leaders in front of the Federal building, to protest a decidedly uncivilized proposal–to give significant tax breaks to the richest among us, to cut and undermine core health programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act. Of course, we are referring to the “Ryan budget,” the measure passed by the U.S. House of Representatives last week, with the support of several California Republican Congressmen, including Representative Dan Lungren. We were glad to be joined by a California millionaire affiliated with the national group Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength, a group of millionaires […] Read More

Well-deserved award for uncovering Prime abuses..

The Center for Investigative Reporting’s California Watch has won a well-deserved Polk Award for their investigation in to Prime, a controversial Southern California hospital chain. Congrats to reporters Lance Williams, Christina Jewett and Stephen K. Doig for uncovering a Prime’s questionable pattern of billing Medicare for rare and unlikely ailments. Either there is some strange outbreaks in California communities, or this is a troubling, fradulent practice of “upcoding” to bring in more Medicare dollars. The prestigious Polk award said California Watch “offered a glimpse into the broader problem of waste, fraud and abuse within the nation’s $2.5 trillion health-care system.” According to California Watch, their reporters “analyzed data containing more than 51 million patient records from 2005 through 2010 and […] Read More

The Obama budget proposal…

President Barack Obama released his proposed budget today. Here’s the HHS section of his budget, including on Medicaid and Medicare:http://www.hhs.gov/budget/budget-brief-fy2013.pdf Here’s the National Health Law Program (NHELP) on President Obama’s budget: Though the budget includes an increase of nearly $1 billion for the fiscal year to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to support the implementation of health reform and state exchanges, it also proposes $55.7 billion in Medicaid savings over the next 10 years. NHeLP is concerned with some of the particular reforms proposed in the budget, including the President’s proposal to apply a single blended matching rate for Medicaid and CHIP programs starting in 2017, a phasing down of the Medicaid provider tax threshold, a change […] Read More

Still ending Medicare as we know it…

GOP Budget Committee Chair Rep. Paul Ryan came out with another proposal today that fundamentally undermines the guarantee and protections in Medicare. It wouldn’t be notable, other than he did it with Democratic Senator Ron Wyden. This shouldn’t be surprising: Senator Wyden has always gone his own way on health policy, especially if it was something that could be labelled “bipartisan.” Unlike others, I was never a fan of his version of health reform that he co-authored with Republican Sen. Bennett of Utah–and thankfully, it really wasn’t the basis for the Affordable Care Act; even the small provision that Sen. Wyden stuck in for a narrow slice of the population get stripped out in a more recent budget deal. But […] Read More

Rewriting the Constitution to Force Cuts to Medicare and Medicaid…

Instead of acting to create jobs, the U.S. House of Representatives voted to effectively force steep cuts in Social Security and Medicare by voting to rewrite the Constitution. All but one of California’s GOP Representatives voted for a so-called “Balanced Budget Amendment,” backing an agenda that would cripple the economy, gut Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, while protecting tax breaks for millionaires and prosperous corporations. The vote among California Representatives was party line, with virtually all GOP Representatives, including Rep. Dan Lungren of Sacramento, voting for the constitutional amendment (Rep. Dreier was the lone CA GOP to vote against). Most Democrats voted against the measure, with the exceptions of Reps. Costa and Cardoza of the Central Valley. We are pleased […] Read More

Governor Brown Signs AB151 (Monning) Guaranteeing Seniors Access to Medigap Coverage

This afternoon, Governor Brown signed AB151 by Assemblymember Monning. This bill will enable all persons on Medicare Advantage plans whose premiums or cost sharing increase, or whose benefits decrease, to purchase a Medigap policy if they decide that Original Medicare and a Medigap policy are preferable to continuing in their Medicare Advantage policy. As federal subsidies for Medicare Advantage plans are reduced, Medicare Advantage plans may decide to change the benefits they provide above the federal minimums–but if they do make changes, then seniors should have the ability to make changes as well, including choosing other options. Their health status shouldn’t tap them into a plan, especially if that plan changes. AB151 provides an important protection for seniors, ensuring that […] Read More

The Californication of Congress, Continued…

Yesterday, the House of Representatives voted on a deal to lift the debt ceiling, and make significant cuts to the federal budget. Here’s the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities on the deal: It was a hostage situation, where the House Republicans were clear that they would full faith and credit of the United States to make their point. It’s hard to play chicken with someone willing to drive off the cliff. And over the weekend, we saw a situation where it was clear that Speaker Boehner did not have full control over his caucus–that he couldn’t necessarily make a deal even if he wanted to. The House didn’t approve the original Boehner package that didn’t even include revenues–which suggested […] Read More

Defending Medicare in this hostage situation…

Earlier today, the House of Representatives pass Speaker John Boehner’s plan to temporarily raise the debt ceiling, impose harsh cuts on key services, require passage of a balanced budget constitutional amendment, and that includes other items on the Republican wish list. He was supposed to pass that bill yesterday, but had to make it more extreme in order to get the votes needed for passage from some members of his party. And just now, the U.S. Senate tabled that plan 59-41, which hopefully will allow negotiation on a real plan that can get through Congress that can raise the debt ceiling, preserve the full faith and credit of the United States, allow our government to makes its commitments, and ensure […] Read More

Sacramento Town Hall on Medicare…

Our Sacramento-area reader may be interested in this town hall tomorrow: SACRAMENTO COUNTY COALITION TO PRESERVE MEDICAREMedicare Town HallThursday, July 28th @ 11:30 AM(Lunch provided at 12:30 PM)St. John Vianney Hall10497 Coloma RoadRancho Cordova, CA Community members, health care advocates and seniors concerned with the attacks on Medicare are coming together to learn more! For more information or to RSVP, please contact Patrick Romano at 510-873-8787 x110 or at promano@health-access.org Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.

Today’s vote to “Cut, Cap and End Medicare”

Today, the House will consider H.R. 2560, the so-called “Cut, Cap and Balance Act” – which California Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi has said should be called the “Cut, Cap, and End Medicare Act.” The bill incorporates the House GOP budget that ends Medicare as we know it, and then would requires deeper cuts and elimination of core services through spending caps and the call for a GOP constitutional “balanced budget” amendment. The House bill is H.R.2560. The Senate bill is S.1340 The venerable Center on Budget and Policy Priorities has analyzed the bill, and their director says it “stands out as one of the most ideologically extreme pieces of major budget legislation to come before Congress in years, if not decades.” […] Read More