This week, lawmakers continued working towards a last-minute deal to keep the federal government funded past Friday, December 21st. In addition, a federal judge in Texas struck down the Affordable Care Act (ACA) – a move that could have substantial effects on Medicare beneficiaries.
Lawmakers Continue “Lame Duck” Session
This week, lawmakers in the House and Senate continued working towards a deal to keep the federal government operating past Friday, December 21st. At the time of writing this week’s legislative update, a deal had not yet been reached, making a partial government shutdown very likely.
The Senior Citizens League urges lawmakers to act responsibly to keep the federal government fully funded so that essential programs like Social Security and Medicare can operate as smoothly as possible. In the days ahead, we will keep a close eye on the evolving negotiations, and we will continue to advocate for legislative solutions that would strengthen and protect your Social Security and Medicare benefits. For updates, follow us on Twitter or visit the Legislative News section of our website every Friday morning.
Federal Judge Strikes Down ACA
Late last week, on December 14th, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor of Texas declared the ACA to be unconstitutional. If the ruling is upheld by higher courts, it will have substantial and immediate effects on millions of older Americans who receive their health insurance coverage through the Medicare program.
That’s because the ACA included several provisions affecting the Medicare program. Among many other things, it reduced prescription drug costs for seniors in the Part D “doughnut hole,” it increased coverage for preventive benefits like cancer or diabetes screenings, and it established new revenue sources for the Medicare program.
If the ACA is overturned, Medicare beneficiaries would be impacted in the following ways…
- Beneficiaries would face higher Part A and Part B premiums and out-of-pocket costs;
- Cost-sharing for preventive benefits and screenings would increase;
- Medigap premiums would be driven up due to higher hospital and provider costs;
- Prescription drug prices in the Part D “doughnut hole” would grow;
- Medicare Part B premiums would take a larger share of Social Security benefits when they are automatically deducted from monthly checks;
- And new revenue sources for the Medicare Part A Trust Fund would be eliminated, jeopardizing the program’s solvency.
Last week’s ruling by Judge O’Connor is not expected to have any immediate effect on the ACA, but if his ruling is upheld by higher courts, Medicare beneficiaries would undoubtedly face higher out-of-pocket costs for their health care. The Senior Citizens League will keep a close eye on the status of the ACA in the days ahead, and we will continue to advocate on Capitol Hill for legislative solutions that would protect the Medicare benefits older Americans have earned and deserve. For updates, follow us on Twitter.