If we had public universities and not corporate universities---these ethics discussions would be front and center.
Medicare Budget in 2015: Obama’s FY 2015 Budget to Cut Payments and Increase Premiums
Posted on March 6, 2014 by Angela Chen The Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Budget plans to cut the federal deficit by reducing payments to Medicare, increasing income-related premiums, and supporting other cost-saving measures.
On Tuesday, March 4, 2014, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released their budget proposal for the 2015 fiscal year. The new budget proposed by President Barack Obama’s administration calls for approximately $522 billion in Medicare spending.
HHS oversees Medicare and Medicaid, as well as the expanded coverage for younger individuals through Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. This budget proposal fully funds the ACA implementation and adds $14.6 billion over the next 10 years to ensure health provider access to rural and other underserved communities. However, this budget also includes billion dollar cuts to the Medicare program and other changes that will greatly affect seniors and other beneficiaries.
Why the administration plans to cut Medicare funding With the aging population comes more individuals collecting their Social Security benefits and becoming eligible for the Medicare program. The growth of these two government programs, among others, is driving deficits and potentially taking money from other priorities, such as defense and education.
Ways to cut the growing costs of these programs have been part of the conversation for a long time. However, with the new proposal, it seems that plans to slow down the growth of Social Security benefits have been pulled back, while Medicare budget cuts have been left on the table. The legislative proposals in the 2015 budget are expected to save $407.2 billion in Medicare spending over 10 years.
Budget Impact on the Medicare program The administration plans to reduce the federal deficit by implementing changes and cuts to the Medicare budget, which include, but are not limited to, the following:
Increase income-related Medicare Part B and Part D premiums
Currently, beneficiaries with incomes above a certain level are required to pay a higher monthly premium for Medicare Part B and Part D coverage. This proposal would restructure these income-related premiums by increasing the lowest income-related premiums by five percentage points to 40% and creating new tiers for every 12.5 percentage points until the highest tier is capped at 90%. While current estimates claim that less than 5% of all Medicare beneficiaries are affected by this higher premium, the new proposal aims to maintain these thresholds until 25% of all beneficiaries enrolled in Part B and Part D are subject to these premiums.
Modify Part B costs for new beneficiaries
The proposal also includes changes that will increase Medicare service costs for the beneficiary. Starting in 2018, the proposal would apply a $25 increase to the Part B deductible in 2018, 2020, and 2022 for new beneficiaries. Additionally, starting in that same year, a new Part B premium surcharge will be implemented for new beneficiaries who purchase Medigap policies with cost-sharing requirements below certain limits.
Reduce payments to health care providers participating in Medicare
A variety of payment cuts are proposed by the budget. This includes cuts to small rural hospitals, who previously received enhanced cost-based payments rather than the fixed-fee payment that other hospitals receive. In an effort to promote higher quality care, cuts are also proposed for Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) care payments starting in 2018 for facilities with high, preventable readmission rates. Other proposals include modifying reimbursements for Part B drugs, bundling payments for post-acute care providers, and aligning Medicare drug payment policies for low-income beneficiaries, all of which aim to reduce spending.
In total, these proposed cuts will reach over $350 billion in payments to Medicare providers, about $50 billion more than the reductions proposed last year.
For more in-depth information on the FY 2015 Budget, visit the HHS website.
Know why Hillary Clinton did all of the policy development for the Clinton's health care reform behind closed doors and with no public exposure to the policies at all----JUST LIKE TRANS PACIFIC TRADE PACT? Well, she was trying to do to health care what Bill Clinton did to the financial industry creating global Wall Street. She wanting to deregulate and consolidate the health industry just as Bill did the financial industry just to make them global systems with maximized wealth. Fast forward to today---and Obama and Clinton neo-liberals did it with Affordable Care Act----the Republican policy for doing just that.
Each time I see Families USA I see a group advocating for the worst of health policy and below you see why----it is a Clinton neo-liberal group created to provide dis-information on health policy. So, they were the lead in all of the Affordable Care Act promotion---making it look as though it was designed to protect health care for all ----rather than eliminated it as ACA does.
The sole consumer representative on the Consumer Protection board.....that's like Maryland's appointments to the Maryland Public Service Commission--all corporate appointees.
You see why the American people do not get real information and that is what Clinton neo-liberals work so hard to do---and they are creating corporate non-profits with progressive names to do it.
Families USA is an American liberal non-profit consumer health-care advocacy organization. It was co-founded by attorney Ronald Pollack, its current executive director, and Philippe Villers, the organization's current President. Families USA is an influential health-care lobbyist in Washington, D.C. and has taken positions on every major piece of health care legislation, including the Medicare Part D plan.
In a 1994 article, The New York Times called Families USA "an unusual advocacy group, for using a careful mix of statistics, hard-luck stories and staged political events, playing an important behind-the-scenes role in shaping public perceptions of the nation's health care problems during the Clinton Administration".
In 2013 Families USA was given a $1 million grant by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for publicizing ObamaCare success stories. They are also closely tied to the Obama administration and the ACA enrollment group Enroll America.
Background Families USA's founder, Ronald Pollack, was Dean of Antioch School of Law, and argued cases involving food aid for low-income Americans before the Supreme Court. In 1997 Pollack was appointed by President Bill Clinton to be the sole consumer representative on the Presidential Advisory Commission on Consumer Protection and Quality in the Health Care Industry, where he worked on the U.S. patients' bill of rights.
Below you see this group promoting Medicare Part D and telling us the closing of the Donut-hole is near thanks to Affordable Care Act. As this article said----this privatization of Medicare policy installed by George Bush was simply a way to move more Medicare funds to PHARMA and it was designed just so people's benefits seemed to never come. The ACA was meant to solve that problem and it was the main promotion for ACA----closing that Donut Hole by 2020! Both Federal Medicare Medigap insurance and private Medicare Advantage Medigap plans both compete for business by making this Donut-hole look smaller with this insurance. So, many seniors depend on Medigap plans to access the PHARMA Medcare Part D provides.
Fast forward to 2015 and Obama pushes with Clinton neo-liberals an end to Medigap plans ----guess when? 2020, the year the Donut Hole was to disappear. As any senior with PHARMA costs will tell you---it seems people never quite reach that Donut Hole to get those savings.
This is not a series of coincidences----Clinton started the dismantling of Federal Medicare and tried hard to install in his terms the ACA that Obama did recently to do that. Bush installed Medicare Part D to move tons of Federal money to PHARMA that then boost the costs of brand name drugs with Medicare paying and draining seniors disposable income. Part D assured any PHARMA that hit the market would get its R & D return via this Federal funding mechanism. Now, with the ending of Medicare----they are ending the Medigap for PHARMA just as people would actually realize a benefit.
Everybody at the national level knew this is to where these policies go. I am simply an academic accessing ordinary public policy information any organization leader would on their particular issue. So, these groups knew ACA was bad for the American people and families-----and they knew Medicare was slated to be privatized under Obama and Clinton neo-liberals. Take a look at the Trans Pacific Trade Pact protests that center on PHARMA to see that public subsidy for PHARMA for nations tied with TPP are eliminated.
Closing The Medicare Part D Program Doughnut Hole: The End Is In Sight!
Mirror ArchivesRon Pollack, Families USA Executive Director Posted Dec. 30, 2012, 9:03 am Special To The Mirror By Ron Pollack - Families USA Executive Director
The meaning of the 2012 election results will probably be debated for months, if not years. But a few things are clear: nearly everyone agrees that President Obama’s reelection means that the Affordable Care Act – the 2010 health care law sometimes called Obamacare – will stay in place. And for people with Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage, especially those who use a lot of prescription drugs, that’s good news.
When the Medicare prescription drug program (Part D) was created in 2003, it included a large gap in coverage that’s known as the “doughnut hole.” After beneficiaries reached an “initial limit” of total drug expenses ($2,930 in 2012), they had no prescription drug coverage until they got to the other side of the doughnut hole – by spending $3,700 more out of their own pockets – and reached the “catastrophic limit” for the year.
The doughnut hole meant that nearly four million beneficiaries with significant prescription drug costs – the people who need help the most – had to pay the full cost for their medications for months at a time. Many had to choose between buying their medications and buying groceries. Others resorted to skipping doses or splitting pills. What’s more, the problem was going to get worse: The gap was going to grow to more than $6,000 by the year 2020.
The doughnut hole never made any sense as a matter of health insurance. Why would coverage stop when you needed it the most? But until the health care law was passed, nobody had done anything about it. Now, the doughnut hole is being gradually filled in. In 2012, people who entered the gap received a 50 percent discount on name-brand drugs and a 14 percent discount on generics. In 2013, those discounts increase to 52.5 percent on name-brand drugs and 21 percent on generics. The discounts will increase each year until 2020, when the gap will be completely filled.
This change is making a positive difference in people’s lives. According to the agency that runs Medicare, since the law took effect, about 5.8 million people with Medicare have gotten help with their drug costs. The total value of the help is now $5.1 billion. That’s money that’s stayed in seniors’ pockets rather than being spent at the pharmacy. As of the end of October 2012, the average savings has been $677 a person. That’s a lot of groceries – or presents for the grandkids.
There’s also some encouraging research confirming what a lot of us intuitively sense: that making prescription drugs more affordable saves money down the road by keeping people healthier. When people with diabetes get their insulin regularly, for example, they’re more likely to stay out of the hospital. Of course this is great for them; no one likes going to the hospital. But it’s good for all of us, because hospital care is expensive, and keeping people healthy and out of the hospital is one of the most obvious ways of bringing health care costs under control. Recently, the Congressional Budget Office – the green eyeshade folks who keep track of the cost of everything the government does – concluded that making prescription drugs in Medicare more affordable does, in fact, save some money later on by reducing things like hospital admissions. As a result, filling in the doughnut hole is going to cost about 40 percent less than was previously forecast. At a time of tight budgets, that’s great news for all of us.
Of course, there are things you can do to help keep your own prescription drug costs down. You should make sure you’re getting the most from your prescription drug coverage. Many plans have preferred pharmacies and mail order services that can get you better prices. Ask your doctor and pharmacist about whether generics are available for any of your name-brand medications, and take the generics whenever possible. And if you have limited income and financial resources, you might qualify for the Extra Help program that’s run through Social Security. You can find out more at the Social Security website, http://www.socialsecurity.gov/prescriptionhelp, or by calling 1.800.MEDICARE. Some states also have their own programs to help people with high drug costs.
As 2013 starts, between the fiscal mess in Washington and everything going on in our own lives, we’ve all got a list of things to be concerned about. But it’s good to know that the Part D prescription drug doughnut hole is soon going to fall off that list of concerns.
Families USA is the national organization for health care consumers.They have advocated for universal, affordable, quality health care since 1982. Ron Pollack is the Executive Director of Families USA.
Of course the Affordable Care Act is the Republican policy to privatize public health ----it only included progressive policy designed to go away after it was passed and installed. What Democratic voters need to be shouting NOW is the way health policy is being written behind closed doors by groups designated in creating payment and procedure guidelines for accessing health care under the pressures of a trillion dollars in cuts to Federal health care. What should happen if we had Democrats in office and not Clinton neo-liberals----is that decades of Medicare data having tons of this very information from actual events would frame these decisions. We have the data showing how much heart surgeries over decades cost and the efficacy of those procedures. We have decades of data on dietary and exercise research and its affects on prolonging life and health. THE DATA IS ALL THERE AND IT WAS COLLECTED AT A TIME WHEN WE HAD A PUBLIC INTEREST GOVERNMENT IN PLACE. Today, Obama simply handed all of what will be life-and-death decisions on access and procedure to the very health institutions that committed the massive frauds and profiteering of our Medicare and Medicaid Trusts. THEY WILL NOT BE USING BEST PRACTICES ----THEY WILL USE MARKET-BASED DATA THAT SHOWS HOW TO MAXIMIZE PROFITS.
We can reverse this----it is not a done deal. We simply need to get rid of these Clinton neo-liberals and rebuild the people's Democratic Party by running labor and justice in against neo-liberals in all primaries.
Obamacare "was the Republican plan in the early '90s." — Ellen Qualls on Tuesday, November 12th, 2013
Is the ACA the GOP health care plan from 1993?
By Jon Greenberg on Friday, November 15th, 2013 at 8:30 a.m.
If there’s one thing conservatives might hate more than Obamacare, it’s hearing that Obamacare springs from Republican ideas. The Heritage Foundation, the granddaddy of the right-wing think tanks, fumed when President Barack Obama said it was the source of the concept of the health insurance marketplaces where people could shop for the best deal. (We rated Obama's claim Mostly True.)
Squaring off with Sean Hannity on his Fox News Channel show, Democratic public relations consultant Ellen Qualls could barely get these words out:
Qualls: History lesson. This was the Republican plan ...
Hannity: This was not the Republican plan.
Qualls: … in the early '90s.
Hannity: No Republican supported it. Not one Republican voted for this.
Qualls: Yes, in the '90s ...
Hannity: That’s a lie.
Qualls: … during the Clinton administration, this was the ‘Let’s fix the private insurance system ...
Hannity: No. No.
Qualls: … and make it work’, instead of making it a government system.
Is the Affordable Care Act really the same as "the Republican plan in the early '90s?"
Short answer -- sort of. There was a Republican bill in the Senate that looked a whole lot like Obamacare, but it wasn’t the only GOP bill on Capitol Hill, it never came to a vote and from what we can tell, plenty of conservative Republicans didn’t like it.
Qualls told PunditFact that she was thinking of the Senate bill.
1993: Health care takes center stage
President Bill Clinton took on an ill-fated effort to reform health care in 1993. As the president’s task force (led by First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton) worked behind closed doors to craft solutions to ever-rising health care costs and a growing number of uninsured families, Republicans scrambled to forge an alternative.
Republican Sen. John Chafee of Rhode Island was the point man. The bill he introduced, Health Equity and Access Reform Today, (yes, that spells HEART) had a list of 20 co-sponsors that was a who’s who of Republican leadership. There was Minority Leader Bob Dole, R- Kan., Sens. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, Richard Lugar, R-Ind., and many others. There also were two Democratic co-sponsors.
Among other features, the Chafee bill included:
- An individual mandate;
- Creation of purchasing pools;
- Standardized benefits;
- Vouchers for the poor to buy insurance;
- A ban on denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition.
That said, the Senate plan from 1993 was not identical to the health care law that passed in 2010. The Republican bill did not expand Medicaid as Obamacare does, and it did have medical malpractice tort reform, which the current law does not. In contrast to the current employer mandate, the Chafee bill required employers to offer insurance, but they were under no obligation to help pay for it.
Policy differences aside, health care scholar and former Clinton adviser Paul Starr at Princeton University said the Affordable Care Act is distinct in one other important way.
"The Chafee plan did not spell out how increased coverage would be financed," Starr said. "It was more of a symbolic bill than an actual piece of legislation."
In fact, after the bill was introduced, the Senate never took it up again.
Even before Chafee brought his bill forward, some conservatives were trying to scuttle it.
More hard-line senators such as Phil Gramm, R-Texas, House Republicans and the Heritage Foundation saw the Chafee bill as an unacceptable compromise. What they wanted was outright defeat of the president’s approach.
No single alternative emerged, but there were a variety of Republican proposals. One in the House drew more co-sponsors than any other, 72 of them. It was called the Action Now Health Reform Act, but its scope was limited. Much of it focused on insurance for small businesses and the self-employed. It offered some protections for people with pre-existing conditions and included changes in medical malpractice law.
There was a smorgasbord of other House Republican bills. Like Chafee’s bill, none of them went anywhere.
Qualls said the Affordable Care Act "was the Republican plan in the '90s." The bill she had in mind did have a strong roster of Republicans behind it, and it did share many major features with the Affordable Care Act. There were some significant differences but in a side-by-side comparison, the similarities dominate.
However, to call it the Republican plan, as though a majority of Republicans endorsed it, goes too far. The House Republicans took a different path, and there was opposition from more hard-line members of the Republican coalition. It is telling that the Chafee bill never became a full blown bill and never came up for a vote.
We rate the statement Half True.
The reason Republicans really like Burwell as much as Clinton neo-liberals----she is corporate through and through! She is a devoted Clinton neo-liberal and devoted to Bill Gates Foundation that is the face of Trans Pacific Trade Pact policy in health and technology----both areas with the most controversial policies having world activists shouting. As we know now, Gates Foundation was simply a tax shelter for developing his own health industry with PHARMA as its primary market. TPP is heavy on PHARMA protections and it is behind TPP pushing the dismantling of public health around the world---maximizing health industry profits. So, Burwell would be a Republican and Clinton neo-liberal favorite.
The Republicans like especially Burwell's opinions that privatizing Medicaid to block grants must be done and she has indicated the same for Medicare ----all connected to Affordable Care Act policy. She is queen of making health care as cheap and profit-driven as possible. People had better take a second look at Gates Foundation and their interests in population control. You may think contraception is the focus----but population control takes many paths. We know Gates bought into Monsanto and BIG AG/MEAT and TPP pushes anti-biotics and hormones in meat both known to be a major threat to a world-wide pandemic from reduced ability to fight disease. THESE ARE VERY DARK PEOPLE! We can be sure they are dismantling and privatizing Medicare with Burwell in the lead.
Keep in mind it is the OMB that created the data supporting the Affordable Care Act that is already falling apart in faulty projections of being beneficial to certain groups.
Meet Sylvia Burwell, Obama's Next Pick For Secretary Of Health And Human Services
- Apr. 10, 2014, 7:33 PM
"The president wants to make sure we have a proven manager and relentless implementer in the job over there, which is why he is going to nominate Sylvia," White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough told The New York Times.
Burwell, 48, who went through one Senate confirmation process when she was picked to lead the White House Office of Management and Budget, now faces another.
So who is she? Well, for starters: She's only been in her current role as OMB Director for under a year, having been confirmed on Apr. 24, 2013. But she's had plenty of experience both in and out of government.
Before joining the Obama administration, she was the president of the Walmart Foundation for two years, and worked at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for 10 years.
She's also a Clinton administration alumnus, having served in a number of positions — handling budget matters, treasury, and others. It was Burwell who was instrumental in designing a number of the federal budgets that turned from deficits to surpluses, according to The Wall Street Journal.
She has an impressive academic record, with an A.B. from Harvard and B.A. from Oxford University where she was a Rhodes Scholar.
Still, Burwell is relatively unknown outside the White House, as one of the few actions that got her widely noticed was her ordering the first government shutdown in 17 years, NBC reports.
But the White House is confident in its pick, who will no doubt face a contentious confirmation process as Republicans will be sure to pepper her with questions — as they did Sebelius — over the shortcomings and technical glitches of the Obamacare rollout.
Battling with Republicans isn't new for her either. She often butted heads with Republicans for delaying spending bills in 2000, telling them "we will sign short-term [continuing resolutions] as long as it takes to get the job done," The Wall Street Journal reported.
Here's what The White House said of her:
"The President sought a nominee with strong credentials in management, implementation, and performance for this important role. Sylvia Mathews Burwell brings just those skills. A proven manager, Burwell is someone the President has relied on to navigate through the government shutdown in October, to jump-start his management agenda and bring our government into the 21st century, and help reach the two-year budget agreement the President signed into law. Having also worked in leadership positions at the Gates Foundation, the WalMart Foundation and Met Life, Burwell’s combination of public and private sector experiences makes her the right person to steer HHS in the coming years. Sylvia was confirmed unanimously by the Senate to lead the OMB less than a year ago, and has a record of building bipartisan consensus to get things done."