Retirees may pay about $20,000 more for medical care if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the 2010 health care overhaul, according to a report from Fidelity Investments. Passage of the health law saved money for seniors, who among other benefits gained additional coverage for prescription drugs and free preventive care. The cost of losing those benefits, should the court overturn the law, would be about $20,000 before their deaths, according to Sunit Patel, senior vice president for Fidelity Benefits Consulting and the leader of the project.
The Supreme Court is weighing whether the law’s requirement that most Americans have health insurance is constitutional, and if not, how much of the law to overturn. Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, the likely Republican nominee for president in November’s election, has said he would repeal the entire law “as quickly as possible” should he take office. According to Bloomberg News, the court may preserve the drug benefit for seniors, which closes the gap in Medicare’s coverage for prescription medicines known as the “doughnut hole.” About 78 percent of people polled by the Kaiser Family Foundation in April said they held a favorable view of that provision. “We have a dollar figure in hand on how much more seniors are likely to pay if health care reform is struck down or repealed,” said Barbara J. Easterling, President of the Alliance. “It is just plain wrong to say that repeal would benefit seniors.” (More at http://buswk.co/JTMja2)
Voters Go to the Polls in Four States, Including Wisconsin and Indiana
Voters went to the polls on Tuesday in Wisconsin, Indiana, West Virginia, and North Carolina. Among the results: Mayor Tom Barrett of Milwaukee won the Democratic primary for the right to take on Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R) in a recall election to be held on June 5. In addition, Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana lost a challenge from the right flank of his own Republican Party, his nearly four-decade career in the Senate ended by a tea party-backed GOP foe, state Treasurer Richard Mourdock. Mourdock will face Democratic Rep. Joe Donnelly in the general election. Democrats promise a competitive race as they seek to deny Republicans the four seats they need to take control of the Senate.
“Sen. Lugar had a reputation for bipartisan deal-making, but not on seniors’ issues,” said Ruben Burks, Secretary-Treasurer of the Alliance. “His lifetime voting record with the Alliance was 10% - meaning that 15 of the current Republican Senators voted in seniors’ best interests more often than he did.”
House Republican Budget Reconciliation Vote a Threat to Seniors’ Well-Being
On Thursday, the House passed H.R. 5652, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act, by a vote of 218-199. No Democrats voted for the bill, and 16 Republicans voted against it. For a tally of the vote, go to http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2012/roll247.xml. Most seriously, the vote eliminated the $1.7 billion Social Services Block Grant (SSBG) and cut Medicare and Medicaid for seniors.
“Preserving the SSBG would provide Meals on Wheels to seniors unable to prepare their own food; adult day care services, which enable seniors to remain in their own homes; and funding for programs such as adult foster care and adult protective services, which address the abuse and exploitation of older adults,” said Edward F. Coyle, Executive Director of the Alliance. To read his complete statement, go to http://bit.ly/JFA3yp.
“Cheat Sheet” Available: What to Say at Town Halls!
Do you want to be active in protecting Social Security and Medicare, but aren’t always sure what to say? The Alliance has created a concise 2-page document with suggestions on what questions to ask. For instance, see if your elected officials support turning Medicare into a voucher program! View the document by going to http://bit.ly/JFvHaD.
107 Charged in Medicare Fraud Busts in 7 Cities
ABC News reported that federal authorities charged 107 doctors, nurses and social workers in seven cities with Medicare fraud last week, in a nationwide crackdown on unrelated scams that allegedly bilked the program of $452 million — the highest dollar amount in a single Medicare bust in U.S. history. Hundreds of federal agents fanned out nationally, raiding businesses, seizing documents and charging 107 suspects in Miami, Los Angeles, Houston, Detroit, Chicago, Tampa, Fla., and Baton Rouge, La. The government suspended payment to 52 providers as part of the investigations.
“It was the latest in a string of major arrests in the past two years as authorities have targeted fraud that’s believed to cost the government between $60 billion and $90 billion each year,” according to ABC. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius and Attorney General Eric Holder partnered in 2009 to increase enforcement by allocating more money and staff and going after “fraud hot spots.” Community mental health centers are the latest trend in Medicare fraud, which has developed more complex schemes over the years, moving from medical equipment and HIV infusion fraud to ambulance scams, as criminals try to stay one step ahead of authorities. To read more, go to http://abcn.ws/IQNYmn.
Maine Alliance Holds its Founding Convention
The Maine Alliance for Retired Americans held its founding convention on Thursday. Elected as leaders were: Don Berry – President; Bruce Hodsdon – Vice President; Ed Keefe, Treasurer; and Archie Janvrin, Secretary. Sandra Crehore, Paul Gilbert, Richard Gordon, Diane Grandmaison, and Charlie Urquhart were elected to the board.
Richard Fiesta, Director of the Department of Government and Political Affairs for the Alliance, spoke at the Maine convention and also at the New Hampshire Alliance’s Educational Forum in Manchester on Wednesday. Educational forums were held this week in Wake Forest, North Carolina and Oak Creek, Appleton, and Green Bay, Wisconsin, as well.
Florida Alliance Helps Dedicate Senior Housing in Miami
Florida Alliance President Tony Fransetta attended the re-dedication of the Mildred and Claude Pepper Towers on Tuesday in Miami. An Elderly Housing Development and Operations Corporation board member, Mr. Fransetta gave an inspiring speech and participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony. To see video footage, go to http://bit.ly/IYrM9D.
Download a printable version of this document http://bit.ly/IYEJjX.